A new study finds that early detection and quick treatment can save nearly 87pct of people affected from anthrax.
The researchers suggest that any delay beyond three days would overwhelm hospitals with critically ill people.
"No matter how well-organized and prolonged a treatment program is, it must be quickly implemented. In fact, our analysis shows that time-to-treatment is roughly twice as important as the duration of the distribution program," said lead author Dr. Nathaniel Hupert, associate professor of public health and medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College.
"Crucial to rapidly implementing a treatment program is early detection, including thorough use of advanced biosurveillance technologies and live, person-to-person communication," Hupert added.
The study predicts that a campaign initiated two days after exposure would protect as many as 87 percent of exposed individuals from illness-a rate considered successful by the CDC.
The researchers suggest that appropriate and timely administration of an antibiotic treatment program, exposed individuals would be spared from developing inhalational anthrax infection.
The results of a computer simulation study appear in the journal Medical Decision Making.