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Mol Aspects Med. 2009 Dec;30(6):503-10. doi: 10.1016/j.mam.2009.07.002. Epub 2009 Jul 18.

Preparedness for an anthrax attack.

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  • 1Midwest Research Institute, Frederick, MD, USA.


Bacillus anthracis is a long-known bacterial organism with a uniquely stable spore stage. Its stability and the lethal disease which results when the spore is inhaled made it a favorite of state-sponsored biological weapons programs throughout the Cold War era. It is also believed to be high on the list of candidate microbial agents which could be used by terrorist groups or lone actors. Its unique characteristics make protection of humans, especially civilians, from an intentional biological attack very difficult. The author argues that an all-hazards/public health approach - which would also be needed for any natural or deliberate outbreak, no matter the agent - should serve as a foundation of preparation for the specific anthrax countermeasures. Because B. anthracis is a unique organism, specific countermeasures for anthrax detection, diagnostics, prophylaxis and therapy, should be developed in nations or regions where the threat of biological attack is believed to warrant such preparation. Other considerations for a nation interested in anthrax preparedness are discussed.

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