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Open Access Aerosolized Bacillus anthracis Infection in New Zealand White Rabbits: Natural History and Intravenous Levofloxacin Treatment

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Abstract:

The natural history for inhalational Bacillus anthracis (Ames strain) exposure in New Zealand white rabbits was investigated to better identify potential, early biomarkers of anthrax. Twelve SPF Bordetella-free rabbits were exposed to 150 LD50 aerosolized B. anthracis spores, and clinical signs, body temperature, complete blood count, bacteremia, and presence of protective antigen in the blood (that is, antigenemia) were examined. The development of antigenemia and bacteremia coincided and preceded both pyrexia and inversion of the heterophil:lymphocyte ratio, an indicator of infection. Antigenemia was determined within 1 h by electrochemiluminescence immunoassay, compared with the 24-h traditional culture needed for bacteremia determination. Rabbits appeared clinically normal until shortly before succumbing to anthrax approximately 47 h after challenge or approximately 22 h after antigenemia, which suggests a relatively narrow therapeutic window of opportunity. To evaluate the therapeutic rabbit model, B. anthracis-exposed rabbits were treated (after determination of antigenemia and later confirmed to be bacteremic) intravenously with the fluoroquinolone antibiotic levofloxacin for 5 d at a total daily dose of 25 or 12.5 mg/kg, resulting in nearly 90% and 70% survival, respectively, to the study end (28 d after challenge). The peak level for 12.5 mg/kg was equivalent to that observed for a 500-mg daily levofloxacin dose in humans. These results suggest that intravenous levofloxacin is an effective therapeutic against inhalational anthrax. Taken together, our findings indicate that antigenemia is a viable and early biomarker for B. anthracis infection that can be used as a treatment trigger to allow for timely intervention against this highly pathogenic disease.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Center for Aerobiological Sciences, United States Army Medical Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), Fort Detrick, Maryland 2: Pennsylvania Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 3: Office of Regulated Studies, United States Army Medical Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), Fort Detrick, Maryland; Clinical Research Management, Hinckley, Ohio

Publication date: December 1, 2010

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  • Comparative Medicine (CM), an international journal of comparative and experimental medicine, is the leading English-language publication in the field and is ranked by the Science Citation Index in the upper third of all scientific journals. The mission of CM is to disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed information that expands biomedical knowledge and promotes human and animal health through the study of laboratory animal disease, animal models of disease, and basic biologic mechanisms related to disease in people and animals.

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