Posts Tagged ‘Environmental Terrorism’

Biological Agents, comment

December 1, 2008

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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Biological Agents

November 17, 2008

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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World Wide Spread of Diseases

October 26, 2007

Did you ever read the book “The Stand” by Stephen King? It was about a post epidemic world with lots of biblical implications. The epidemic was a “super flu” that was made by the army and it spread easily all over the world because of mass air travel and a world wide market. The BBC had an article by the WHO that warns of global epidemic risk. And that risk is based on massive air travel by populations all over the world and a world wide market in live animals. I live in Virginia. A Virginia ham is very salty, it is a local thing and we have always been proud of this ham. Then there was recently an article in the local paper about an outbreak of something like foot and mouth disease in Romania. Well, what the heck did that have to do with our hams? Turns out, the hams for Smithfield hams are raised in Romania. Is that weird? As it turns out, not so much. I knew companies in this country outsourced all kinds of things, but it turns out it is more extensive than I would ever have guessed. They can get these poor people to work for pennies a day and make a bundle that way. Aside from a poke in the eye at the abuse of capitalists, this certainly has large implications in the spread of disease. We have already seen a return of resistant forms of TB. And a recent event of one dippy lawyer that went international with his airborne illness (smart enough to pass boards for law but too dumb to understand the word “contagious”). There are other diseases making a come-back because of urbanization and mass travel. Cholera is back. Malaria is back. The hemorrhagic fevers are traveling further. SARS scared enough people but thank heavens, was not as virulent as initially assumed. But, there are outbreaks of flu that mutate and travel quite easily. Given the ease of movement of SARS, this may turn out to be scarier than a Stephen King novel.

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Anthrax

September 5, 2007

I often wonder if Anthrax has not already been released. In small amounts does it cause less severe symptoms. If you know you have been exposed, what antibiotic treats it? What is actually in the vaccine, if the vaccine is not intended for humans? How much would have to be released and how is it released? What does it look like?

A full head to toe nursing assessment would have to be done. Anthrax seems to mimic so many different diseases. The focus would be on skin, GI, and Respiratory systems. It would be difficult to figure out if you did not know that there was a definite Anthrax exposure. The forensic nurse would have to have a calm and respectful approach to the victim and the family. But, in order to figure out the puzzle the forensic nurse would have to ask the questions. One would not want to induce panic either, from the family or the media.

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Anthrax

May 16, 2007

* Anthrax is an acute infectious disease caused by spores of bacterium, Bacillus anthracis. Anthrax can be found globally. It is in developing countries without veterinary public heath programs. The United States military views anthrax as potential biological terrorism threat because the spores are resistant to destruction and can be easily spread by release in the air. Foreign countries have been documented for development of anthrax as a biological weapon.

* The B. anthracis spores are often present in the soil . Goat, sheep and cattle are examples of animals that may become infected. Human infection occur by three routes of exposure to anthrax spores: cutaneous ( skin), gastrointestinal (by ingestion), and pulmonary ( inhalation).

– Symptoms usually occur after 7 to 17 days:

+ Cutaneous: Most anthrax infections occur when the bacterium enters a cut or abrasion on the skin. Skin infection begins the painless ulcers with characteristic black necrotic area in the center. Lymph gland in the adjacent area may swell. Anthrax will result in death with untreated case of cutaneous infection.

+ Inhalation: Symptoms are a common cold. After few days, the symptoms are progress to breathing problems and shock. Inhalation anthrax is usually fatal. At autopsy, there were numerous foci of hemorrhage of the mediastinum. The hilar and peribronchial lympth nodes are enlarged, soft, confluent, and hemorrhagic. This death from inhalation anthrax demonstrates the ability of this infection to mimic other diseases: congestive heart failure, influenza, and community-acquired pneumonias.

+ Intestinal: Initial signs of nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting, and fever are followed by abdominal pain. Intestinal anthrax results in death in 60% of cases.

* The prevention anthrax is the anthrax vaccine. The vaccine is a cell-free filtrate vaccine, which means it contains no dead or live bacteria in the preparation. Anthrax vaccines intended for animals should not be used in humans. There is a list for who should get vaccinated against anthrax:

– Persons who work with the organism in the laboratory.

– Persons who work with imported animal hides or furs.

– Military personnel deployed to areas with high risk for exposure to the organism.

Treatment should be initiated early, if left untreated the disease can be fatal.

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