African Drum Anthrax: 80 advised to take anti-anthrax medicine/ Union-Leader
Posted Dec 30 2009 12:00am
According to Dan Tuohy at the Manchester, New Hampshire Union-Leader,
The state is encouraging more than 80 people to take antibiotics and anthrax vaccine after an environmental sample at the United Campus Ministry in Durham tested positive for anthrax.
The announcement today comes after a young woman remains in critical condition with gastrointestinal anthrax. She attended a drum circle at the ministry building, which the state ordered closed until further notice.
If the vaccine were perfectly safe, people who might have been exposed to anthrax would do well to use it as extra insurance against the disease. But there are significant safety questions. The GAO (the investigative arm of Congress) reported in 2007 that, "Officials from the VHC Network and CDC estimate that between 1 and 2 percent of immunized individuals may experience severe adverse events, which could result in disability or death." I discussed this earlier here.
Here is a table from the largest trial of Biothrax anthrax vaccine conducted in humans, by CDC, published in the October 1, 2008 Journal of the American Medical Association. A total of 1564 people were entered in the study, and 1300 received anthrax vaccine. In the 1564 subjects, 229 serious adverse events occurred during the 43 month trial. A listing of all the adverse events has yet to be published, as well as a comparison of the vaccine and placebo groups, but study monitors reported that the following 7 serious adverse events (including two people with new breast cancers) were possibly related to the vaccine:
Table 7. Serious Adverse Events Rated as Possibly Associated With the Study Agent (anthrax vaccine) Since Study Initiation
A Latin phrase encapsulates the anthrax vaccine issue, for those civilians in a position to choose whether to take it: Caveat Emptor (or in English, Let the Buyer Beware).