Apocalypse Now! Anthrax Bioterrorism and the Public Health Challenge
Governments, scientists—and even terrorists—all understand how easy it is to develop and release severely dangerous pathogens such as anthrax. The anthrax agent, developed from Bacillus anthracis bacteria, can truly be considered the terrorist's agent. Made solely for the convenience of the aggressor, it is easy to disperse, nearly impossible to detect, and difficult to diagnose and treat. The possibility of an anthrax attack is one of the most dangerous threats for civilian populations, as there is an risk of exponential growth in the number of infected people and high death tolls. This project seeks to explore anthrax pathogenesis and the challenges this presents for an effective response. The September 2001 anthrax attacks in the United States are used as case studies to examine the difficulties of mitigating a potential outbreak. Future objectives, such as managing surge and decontaminating healthcare settings, are discussed. The establishment of effective quarantine and communications systems is emphasized as are ongoing research and education about bioterrorism.
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