Biological Agents, comment


Most would agree that the United States has come a long way in preparation for a biological terrorist attack. Have we come far enough? Establishing a department of homeland security as president Bush has was a major step in the right direction, but I feel like the aftermath of a large scale attack would be such that many would question why we were not better prepared for it. On pages 345 and 346 of Kumar’s Robbins & Cotran Pathologic Basis of Disease, 7th Edition, it talks about the spread of biological agents. Smallpox spreads through the air and very small doses are needed for infection. Because vaccinations were last administered in 1972, the majority of our population would be susceptible. It seems to me that the production of the smallpox vaccination would be done and readily available in case of an attack. Waterborne and foodborne pathogens could also be used by terrorist and would have similarly disastrous consequences. Kumar et. al, go on to talk about a category of agents that would have a higher mortality than even smallpox or anthrax attacks. These pathogens that are held in category C include the Nipah virus and Hantavirus. There are no cures or effective treatments for Nipah virus. It causes encephalitis, drowsiness, convulsions, and myalgia and usually results in a coma and then death.

Original Post:
November 17, 2008
Biological Agents
One short discussion talks about only two agents that might be used in an biological attack. It points out that Anthrax is rarely seen in modern hospitals but it can be argued that most biological agents have not been seen in hospitals. If this is indeed true, what will be the number of infected health care workers. During a mass biological disaster there will be victims, there will also be secondary victims (those who are infected from the contact with the initial victims) surely there must be some projected estimates. If so where can this information be found?

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