Experts warn against hoarding
While an anthrax attack would
be devastating, it would be localized in scope to a single city or
region. The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) calls
stockpiling antibiotics nothing short of "dangerous," since it
would prevent the medications from reaching those patients who currently
need them for pneumonia, skin infections, and other fairly common
illnesses. They also express concern about the "mistaken
administration to persons for whom these drugs would not normally be
prescribed" -- specifically, pregnant women and children--because
antibiotics such as Cipro can cause growth defects in small children and
The experts offer the following advice on
the use of antibiotics.
- Do not start taking antibiotics in
advance of a suspected attack. To do so would not only exhaust your
supply; it would offer no protection against a later attack. If an
attack does not come.
- Do not use any antibiotic after the
expiry date. After this time, the drug will be useless. Throw it
- If you take any antibiotic and feel
ill, see your doctor immediately. Tell your doctor about the
medicine you have taken. Like any drug, antibiotics can cause side
effects. For ciprofloxacin, these might include rash, nausea and
vomiting, or confusion.
- Antibiotics can react with other
medications to make them ineffective or even toxic. Tell your doctor
about the other medications you are taking.
- Do not exceed the normal daily dose of
the antibiotic. More is not better.
- Do not use the antibiotics prescribed
for anthrax to self-treat other illnesses. Each antibiotic is useful
only for certain types of infections.
- Antibiotics should be started at the
earliest warning of an attack in your immediate area. The correct
dose of Cipro is 500 milligrams taken every 12 hours. Most experts
agree that taking this dose, for at least 6-8 weeks, offers nearly
100% protection against most strains of anthrax.
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