Anthrax as a biological weapon, 2002: updated recommendations for management

JAMA. 2002 May 1;287(17):2236-52. doi: 10.1001/jama.287.17.2236.


Objective: To review and update consensus-based recommendations for medical and public health professionals following a Bacillus anthracis attack against a civilian population.

Participants: The working group included 23 experts from academic medical centers, research organizations, and governmental, military, public health, and emergency management institutions and agencies.

Evidence: MEDLINE databases were searched from January 1966 to January 2002, using the Medical Subject Headings anthrax, Bacillus anthracis, biological weapon, biological terrorism, biological warfare, and biowarfare. Reference review identified work published before 1966. Participants identified unpublished sources.

Consensus process: The first draft synthesized the gathered information. Written comments were incorporated into subsequent drafts. The final statement incorporated all relevant evidence from the search along with consensus recommendations.

Conclusions: Specific recommendations include diagnosis of anthrax infection, indications for vaccination, therapy, postexposure prophylaxis, decontamination of the environment, and suggested research. This revised consensus statement presents new information based on the analysis of the anthrax attacks of 2001, including developments in the investigation of the anthrax attacks of 2001; important symptoms, signs, and laboratory studies; new diagnostic clues that may help future recognition of this disease; current anthrax vaccine information; updated antibiotic therapeutic considerations; and judgments about environmental surveillance and decontamination.

Publication types

  • Consensus Development Conference
  • Guideline
  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anthrax Vaccines
  • Anthrax* / diagnosis
  • Anthrax* / epidemiology
  • Anthrax* / history
  • Anthrax* / prevention & control
  • Anthrax* / therapy
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antibiotic Prophylaxis
  • Bacillus anthracis
  • Bioterrorism*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Decontamination
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / diagnosis
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / microbiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / therapy
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Immunocompromised Host
  • Infant
  • Infection Control
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregnancy
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / diagnosis
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / microbiology*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / therapy
  • Skin Diseases, Bacterial / diagnosis
  • Skin Diseases, Bacterial / microbiology*
  • Skin Diseases, Bacterial / therapy
  • Spores, Bacterial
  • United States
  • Vaccination


  • Anthrax Vaccines
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents