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Bioterror Attack: How Prepared Are US Forces?

The US needs to better prepare for the Bioterror threat.  Most Warfighters are familiar with MOPP (Mission Oriented Protective Posture) but, how many have actually trained extensively in MOPP gear for extended periods of time or know what the onset indicators look like in an attack?  Good questions I think.  I read a great article in the NY Times on bioterror that really got me thinking.

 

Times excerpt

Cheney nodded. “O.K.,” he said. “But what are we looking for? What does a biological weapon look like?”

At this, Larsen reached into his briefcase and pulled out a small test tube. “Mr. Vice President,” he said, “it looks like this.” Inside the tube was a weaponized powder of Bacillus globigii, almost genetically identical to anthrax. “And by the way,” Larsen said, “I just smuggled this into your office.”

At one of the most secure buildings in the world, in a moment of unprecedented alarm, the White House guards had searched Larsen’s briefcase — and never even saw the powder. “They were looking for the wrong things,” Larsen says now. “They still are.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We just don't train enough for bioterror attacks on a large scale level from what I've seen.  This is a very real threat that we need to address ASAP.  The relative ease at which this can be done is not very comforting and makes me glad I live on the coast with a prevailing onshore wind. Not that it would help much!

Let us know what bioterror training you've had, we want to hear about it. For a refresher, check out the categories below and really ask yourself if the US is a well prepared force to operate in this threat environment.  I would have to say no we're not.  -Brandon

Category A

The U.S. public health system and primary healthcare providers must be prepared to address various biological agents, including pathogens that are rarely seen in the United States. High-priority agents include organisms that pose a risk to national security because they

•can be easily disseminated or transmitted from person to person; •result in high mortality rates and have the potential for major public health impact; •might cause public panic and social disruption; and •require special action for public health preparedness. Agents/Diseases •Anthrax (Bacillus anthracis) •Botulism (Clostridium botulinum toxin) •Plague (Yersinia pestis) •Smallpox (variola major) •Tularemia (Francisella tularensis) •Viral hemorrhagic fevers (filoviruses [e.g., Ebola, Marburg] and arenaviruses [e.g., Lassa, Machupo])

Category B

Second highest priority agents include those that

•are moderately easy to disseminate; •result in moderate morbidity rates and low mortality rates; and •require specific enhancements of CDC's diagnostic capacity and enhanced disease surveillance. Agents/Diseases •Brucellosis (Brucella species) •Epsilon toxin of Clostridium perfringens •Food safety threats (e.g., Salmonella species, Escherichia coli O157:H7, Shigella) •Glanders (Burkholderia mallei) •Melioidosis (Burkholderia pseudomallei) •Psittacosis (Chlamydia psittaci) •Q fever (Coxiella burnetii) •Ricin toxin from Ricinus communis (castor beans) •Staphylococcal enterotoxin B •Typhus fever (Rickettsia prowazekii) •Viral encephalitis (alphaviruses [e.g., Venezuelan equine encephalitis, eastern equine encephalitis, western equine encephalitis]) •Water safety threats (e.g., Vibrio cholerae, Cryptosporidium parvum)

Category C

Third highest priority agents include emerging pathogens that could be engineered for mass dissemination in the future because of

•availability; •ease of production and dissemination; and •potential for high morbidity and mortality rates and major health impact. Agents •Emerging infectious diseases such as Nipah virus and hantavirus

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