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Public Health Rep. 2001 Jan-Feb;116(1):3-14.

Precautions against biological and chemical terrorism directed at food and water supplies.

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  • 1National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA.


Deliberate food and water contamination remains the easiest way to distribute biological or chemical agents for the purpose of terrorism, despite the national focus on dissemination of these agents as small-particle aerosols or volatile liquids. Moreover, biological terrorism as a result of sabotage of our food supply has already occurred in the United States. A review of naturally occurring food- and waterborne outbreaks exposes this vulnerability and reaffirms that, depending on the site of contamination, a significant number of people could be infected or injured over a wide geographic area. Major knowledge gaps exist with regard to the feasibility of current disinfection and inspection methods to protect our food and water against contamination by a number of biological and chemical agents. However, a global increase in food and water safety initiatives combined with enhanced disease surveillance and response activities are our best hope to prevent and respond quickly to food- and waterborne bioterrorism.

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