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Bioterrorism Preparedness

Bioterrorism - the deliberate or threatened use of bacteria, viruses or toxins to cause disease, death, disruption or fear.

Although the term may be new to many, bioterrorism is not a new concept. In fact biological agents have been used as weapons for decades.

Assyrians poison wells with rye ergot. 700 BC - Assyrians poison wells with rye ergot.

1300s - Tartars catapult plague-infected corpses over the walls of Kaffe (Crimea), possibly leading to the Black Death plague epidemic that followed.

1700s - British soldiers give the American Indians blankets previously used by smallpox patients.

World War II - Germans use anthrax on the United States soldiers' horses and mules.

1940 - Chinese drop ceramic containers holding plague-infected fleas on Manchuria.

1984 - Rajneeshee Cult members spray salmonella on salad bars in Oregon, sickening more than 700 people.

Today the methods used in a bioterrorism attack may be much different, but the biological agents that could be used are much the same.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have listed six Category A Agents, based on how easy they are to obtain, weaponize, and disseminate, and how much death, damage or fear they might cause.

Cutaneous anthrax (left) and smallpox (right). The Category A Agents are:
     Tularemia (rabbit fever)
     Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers

The Christian County Health Department is working with key partners in the community, including police, fire, EMS, emergency management and schools, to prepare for a bioterrorist attack. Active surveillance will alert Health Department officials to a potential outbreak or attack. Emergency plans advise key partners on how to respond. Medication Distribution Sites have been designated and can be opened if there is a need to dispense medication to county residents.

You can also take steps today to protect yourself and your family.
     Educate yourself on the threats of bioterrorism.
     Prepare for unexpected events.                                   Español
     Have an emergency plan for your family.                     Español
     Pack a Disaster Prep Kit.                                             Español
     Understand what it means to shelter-in-place.             Español
     Volunteer in your community.
          Community Heroes
          Citizen Corps
          Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)
          Medical Reserve Corps (MRC)
          Neighborhood Watch Program (NWP)
          Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS)
          American Red Cross
          Other civic and community groups

Give live - Give blood.

Live life! Remember, keep the threat of bioterrorism in perspective, and enjoy each day of life.


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