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Doxycycline Urged for Anthrax

October 29, 2001

ATLANTA (AP) _ Government health officials said Monday they want more people at risk for anthrax to take the drug doxycycline, citing fears that some common bacteria are becoming resistant to the sought-after antibiotic Cipro.

Both drugs are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to treat confirmed cases of anthrax and to protect people who may have been exposed to the bacteria.

But Cipro is part of a special class of drugs prescribed by doctors when they do not know exactly how vulnerable an organism is to particular antibiotics. Distributing those drugs too widely can weaken their effectiveness.

The widespread use of Cipro since the anthrax-by-mail scare began may be hampering the drug’s ability to fight bacterial diseases like pneumonia and urinary tract infections, health officials said.

``There are compelling public health reasons to consider doxycycline as a better choice in the current situation,″ said Dr. Bradley Perkins, a CDC anthrax specialist.

Doxycycline works just as well as Cipro against the anthrax detected so far in New York, New Jersey, Washington and Florida, and health officials are less concerned about a buildup of antibiotic resistance to doxycycline.

In addition to being cheaper and more available than Cipro, doxycycline has fewer side effects.

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On the Net:

CDC bioterrorism page: http://www.bt.cdc.gov

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