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Disaster Med Public Health Prep. 2013 Jun;7(3):319-26. doi: 10.1001/dmp.2011.1.

Mass arsenic poisoning and the public health response in Maine.

Author information

  • 1Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • 2Yale-New Haven Center for Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Response.
  • 3Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Emergency Preparedness Bureau.
  • 4Harvard School of Public Health, Center for Public Health Preparedness.


Created in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Maine's Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness within the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention undertook a major reorganization of epidemiology and laboratory services and began developing relationships with key partners and stakeholders, and a knowledgeable and skilled public health emergency preparedness workforce. In 2003, these newly implemented initiatives were tested extensively during a mass arsenic poisoning at the Gustav Adolph Lutheran Church in the rural northern community of New Sweden, Maine. This episode serves as a prominent marker of how increased preparedness capabilities, as demonstrated by the rapid identification and administration of antidotes and effective collaborations between key partners, can contribute to the management of broader public health emergencies in rural areas.

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