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Ann Emerg Med. 1999 Aug;34(2):183-90.

Emergency physicians and biological terrorism.

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Department of Emergency Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.


Recent developments, such as the bombings of the World Trade Center in 1993 and the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995, the sarin attacks in Tokyo and Matsumoto, Japan, and US Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, have heightened fears of terrorist attacks. Future terrorist activities will continue to involve bombs and firearms, but may also include weapons of mass destruction, including biological agents. Recent US government initiatives have recognized the threats to our country from these weapons and have funded planning and response programs. These preparedness programs are being built on existing infrastructure of EMS and fire services' plans for hazardous materials response. Appropriate emergency department and hospital response, guided by public health principles, could significantly limit the morbidity and mortality of biological warfare agents. Inappropriate response by the medical community may worsen a chaotic and potentially devastating situation. This article discusses planning and response issues central to a potential bioterrorism event.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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