Bioterrorism Preparedness: What Practitioners Need to Know
from Infections in Medicine ®
David A. Relman, MD, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, Calif, and Jed E. Olson, MD, University of Colorado, Denver
Abstract and Introduction
AbstractA premeditated biologic attack against a civilian population is now a real threat. Several naturally occurring infectious agents and their products (for example, purified toxins) are among the candidates that have been and would be used in such a scenario. Familiarity with these agents and their associated diseases may help physicians recognize the possibility of a deliberate attack and manage the consequences.
IntroductionUntil recently, the specter of biologic warfare or bioterrorism was infrequently discussed by most physicians, despite the attention it had received from novelists, screenplay writers, politicians, and military defense strategists. Thankfully, most physicians have still never encountered the malevolent use of biologic agents, nor have they treated a victim of a biologic attack. In fact, despite their occasional occurrence in a "natural setting," as well as in recent events, clinical cases involving any of the classic biothreat agents are rarely encountered even by most infectious disease physicians.
For these and many other reasons, the intentional use of biologic agents has represented an exceedingly unlikely, hypothetical scenario for most clinicians. Yet, evidence mounts that the use of biologic agents as weapons is increasingly feasible and plausible in a civilian population setting. The events of September-October 2001 involving the deliberate delivery of anthrax spores through the US postal system provide an introduction to the issues and potential scenarios that can arise from the intentional use of biologic agents as weapons or as tools of fear. And nearly all predicted scenarios of intentional biothreat agent use place physicians at the leading edge of exposure and management.
Despite international bans such as the 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, signed by more than 140 countries — including the United States — and heightened defensive planning on the part of the US military, the facts remain that lethal and highly noxious biologic agents are relatively inexpensive, are easy to obtain (with more than 400 strain repositories around the world, in addition to clinical microbiology laboratories), are easy to produce (most undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral students in microbiology and related fields have the necessary background), are easy to conceal, and are becoming increasingly easy to deliver.
Arguments have been made that biologic agents are the weaponry of the future; they represent the "poor man's atomic bomb." While the goal in state-sponsored warfare may be to kill substantial numbers of people, a terrorist organization or individual may employ biologic agents for less "ambitious" reasons: to incapacitate local populations, to cause social or political disruption, or simply to generate fear and mistrust. Though the concept is loathsome, the threat is nevertheless a real one.
The purposes of this article are to address the needs of infectious disease specialists and other health care practitioners as they are forced to confront this problem and to suggest that the topic of biologic war-fare and bioterrorism requires their involvement.
This is a part of article Bioterrorism Preparedness: What Practitioners Need to Know Taken from "Chloromycetin Chloramphenicol 250Mg" Information Blog