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MMWR Recomm Rep. 2015 Dec 4;64(4):1-22. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.rr6404a1.

Clinical Framework and Medical Countermeasure Use During an Anthrax Mass-Casualty Incident.


In 2014, CDC published updated guidelines for the prevention and treatment of anthrax (Hendricks KA, Wright ME, Shadomy SV, et al. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expert panel meetings on prevention and treatment of anthrax in adults. Emerg Infect Dis 2014;20[2]. Available at These guidelines provided recommended best practices for the diagnosis and treatment of persons with naturally occurring or bioterrorism-related anthrax in conventional medical settings. An aerosolized release of Bacillus anthracis spores over densely populated areas could become a mass-casualty incident. To prepare for this possibility, the U.S. government has stockpiled equipment and therapeutics (known as medical countermeasures [MCMs]) for anthrax prevention and treatment. However, previously developed, publicly available clinical recommendations have not addressed the use of MCMs or clinical management during an anthrax mass-casualty incident, when the number of patients is likely to exceed the ability of the health care infrastructure to provide conventional standards of care and supplies of MCMs might be inadequate to meet the demand required. To address this gap, in 2013, CDC conducted a series of systematic reviews of the scientific literature on anthrax to identify evidence that could help clinicians and public health authorities set guidelines for intravenous antimicrobial and antitoxin use, diagnosis of anthrax meningitis, and management of common anthrax-specific complications in the setting of a mass-casualty incident. Evidence from these reviews was presented to professionals with expertise in anthrax, critical care, and disaster medicine during a series of workgroup meetings that were held from August 2013 through March 2014. In March 2014, a meeting was held at which 102 subject matter experts discussed the evidence and adapted the existing best practices guidance to a clinical use framework for the judicious, efficient, and rational use of stockpiled MCMs for the treatment of anthrax during a mass-casualty incident, which is described in this report. This report addresses elements of hospital-based acute care, specifically antitoxins and intravenous antimicrobial use, and the diagnosis and management of common anthrax-specific complications during a mass-casualty incident. The recommendations in this report should be implemented only after predefined triggers have been met for shifting from conventional to contingency or crisis standards of care, such as when the magnitude of cases might lead to impending shortages of intravenous antimicrobials, antitoxins, critical care resources (e.g., chest tubes and chest drainage systems), or diagnostic capability. This guidance does not address primary triage decisions, anthrax postexposure prophylaxis, hospital bed or workforce surge capacity, or the logistics of dispensing MCMs. Clinicians, hospital administrators, state and local health officials, and planners can use these recommendations to assist in the development of crisis protocols that will ensure national preparedness for an anthrax mass-casualty incident.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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