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How can the United States be proactive in preventing an anthrax or other bioterrorism threat?

Discussion Leader: 
HDIAC Staff
Posted Date: 03/28/2016

Researchers developed, and the Food and Drug Administration approved, a new anthrax injection to treat inhalational anthrax. According to the press release, "anthrax is a potential bioterrorism threat because the spores are resistant to destruction and can be spread by release in the air." 

Under a high magnification of 12,483X, this scanning electron micrograph (SEM) depicted spores from the Sterne strain of Bacillus anthracis bacteria. Photo Credit: CDC

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Comments

The first and most important task that the U.S. government can do in order to thrwart bioterrorism is to collaborate with health care and security professionals in order to establish protocol. When biological terror events occur, health care professionals need to be able to quickly qualifiy the occurance, identify the agent and follow established guidelines to ensure the health and safety of others.

dwplance's picture

In developing a federal Medical Counter Measures plan, the largest gap from the local and state perspectives, across the board is that of manpower for PODs, especially in the critical initial 48 hours of dispensing operations. Unfortunately, this is not a good capability match for the federal government without approved HR policies from OPM. While many plans have opted to mention the use of federal surge workforce members, without that clear guidance, it is not a good choice for a capability in a written plan.
The coordination and collaboration with the private sector is a resource that is underutilized. There are significant resources available but little commitment to MOUs and most MOUs are at the local level and not coordinated for a region or the nation.

David W. Plance

In order to be proactive in preventing anthrax or other bioterrorism threats we need to identify a plan of action in the event of a threat. It is important to establish safeguards and treatments for agents used in bioterrorism and prevent further dissemination of the agent. This will prevent further contamination and keep the contaminated area to a minimum.   

Keeping an eye on emerging and even reemerging diseases will keep the U.S. ahead of the game. Weaponizing biological agents is hindered by a number of factors, including dispersal and the effects of heat and moisture on the agent. As diseases emerge, the United States must rapidly begin development of a vaccine to combat the disease. While these vaccines are designed to prevent the the infection by traditional means, they also protect against the use of a bioterror attack utilizing similar strains.