(1/96) Bioterrorism alleging use of anthrax and interim guidelines for management--United States, 1998.
From October 30 through December 23, 1998, CDC received reports of a series of bioterroristic threats of anthrax exposure. Letters alleged to contain anthrax were sent to health clinics on October 30, 1998, in Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee. During December 17-23 in California, a letter alleged to contain anthrax was sent to a private business, and three telephone threats of anthrax contamination of ventilation systems were made to private and public buildings. All threats were hoaxes and are under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and local law enforcement officials. The public health implications of these threats were investigated to assist in developing national public health guidelines for responding to bioterrorism. This report summarizes the findings of these investigations and provides interim guidance for public health authorities on bioterrorism related to anthrax. (+info)
(2/96) Health status of Persian Gulf War veterans: self-reported symptoms, environmental exposures and the effect of stress.
BACKGROUND: Most US troops returned home from the Persian Gulf War (PGW) by Spring 1991 and many began reporting increased health symptoms and medical problems soon after. This investigation examines the relationships between several Gulf-service environmental exposures and health symptom reporting, and the role of traumatic psychological stress on the exposure-health symptom relationships. METHODS: Stratified, random samples of two cohorts of PGW veterans, from the New England area (n = 220) and from the New Orleans area (n = 71), were selected from larger cohorts being followed longitudinally since arrival home from the Gulf. A group of PGW-era veterans deployed to Germany (n = 50) served as a comparison group. The study protocol included questionnaires, a neuropsychological test battery, an environmental interview, and psychological diagnostic interviews. This report focuses on self-reported health symptoms and exposures of participants who completed a 52-item health symptom checklist and a checklist of environmental exposures. RESULTS: The prevalence of reported symptoms was greater in both Persian Gulf-deployed cohorts compared to the Germany cohort. Analyses of the body-system symptom scores (BSS), weighted to account for sampling design, and adjusted by age, sex, and education, indicated that Persian Gulf-deployed veterans were more likely to report neurological, pulmonary, gastrointestinal, cardiac, dermatological, musculoskeletal, psychological and neuropsychological system symptoms than Germany veterans. Using a priori hypotheses about the toxicant effects of exposure to specific toxicants, the relationships between self-reported exposures and body-system symptom groupings were examined through multiple regression analyses, controlling for war-zone exposure and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Self-reported exposures to pesticides, debris from Scuds, chemical and biological warfare (CBW) agents, and smoke from tent heaters each were significantly related to increased reporting of specific predicted BSS groupings. CONCLUSIONS: Veterans deployed to the Persian Gulf have higher self-reported prevalence of health symptoms compared to PGW veterans who were deployed only as far as Germany. Several Gulf-service environmental exposures are associated with increased health symptom reporting involving predicted body-systems, after adjusting for war-zone stressor exposures and PTSD. (+info)
(3/96) The efforts of WHO and Pugwash to eliminate chemical and biological weapons--a memoir.
The World Health Organization and the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs (Nobel Peace Prize 1995) have been involved in questions concerning chemical and biological arms since the early 1950s. This memoir reviews a number of milestones in the efforts of these organizations to achieve the elimination of these weapons through international treaties effectively monitored and enforced for adherence to their provisions. It also highlights a number of outstanding personalities who were involved in the efforts to establish and implement the two major treaties now in effect, the Biological Weapons Convention of 1972 and the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993. (+info)
(4/96) Chemical and biological weapons: new questions, new answers.
The words "chemical and biological weapons" (CBW) send a shiver down most spines these days. With the end of the Cold War, the possibility of a massive nuclear confrontation appears remote, so today many popular doomsday scenarios center on the aggressive use of chemical or biological warfare by rogue nations or terrorist groups. As exaggerated as some of the accounts are, with CBW cast as the latest unseen, unstoppable enemy, the threat posed by these weapons is all too real, and growing. (+info)
(5/96) Biological warfare agents as threats to potable water.
Nearly all known biological warfare agents are intended for aerosol application. Although less effective as potable water threats, many are potentially capable of inflicting heavy casualties when ingested. Significant loss of mission capability can be anticipated even when complete recovery is possible. Properly maintained field army water purification equipment can counter this threat, but personnel responsible for the operation and maintenance of the equipment may be most at risk of exposure. Municipal water treatment facilities would be measurably less effective. Some replicating (infectious) agents and a few biotoxins are inactivated by chlorine disinfection; for others chlorine is ineffective or of unknown efficacy. This report assesses the state of our knowledge of agents as potable water threats and contemplates the consequences of intentional or collateral contamination of potable water supplies by 18 replicating agents and 9 biotoxins known or likely to be weaponized or otherwise used as threats. (+info)
(6/96) The next target of bioterrorism: your food.
One of the many forms that biological warfare may take is the targeting of major food crops. In a poor country where millions of citizens depend on staple crops such as rice, an act of bioterrorism that destroys the crop would create a famine, resulting not only in malnutrition and starvation but also in reduced immune resistance to a range of common illnesses. To reduce the potential of deliberate introductions of crop pathogens as acts of terrorism, researchers must be able to "fingerprint" pathogens at the molecular level and discriminate between naturally occurring and deliberately introduced outbreaks. Several domestic and international surveillance, tracking, and reporting efforts are under way. (+info)
(7/96) Biological and chemical terrorism: strategic plan for preparedness and response. Recommendations of the CDC Strategic Planning Workgroup.
The U.S. national civilian vulnerability to the deliberate use of biological and chemical agents has been highlighted by recognition of substantial biological weapons development programs and arsenals in foreign countries, attempts to acquire or possess biological agents by militants, and high-profile terrorist attacks. Evaluation of this vulnerability has focused on the role public health will have detecting and managing the probable covert biological terrorist incident with the realization that the U.S. local, state, and federal infrastructure is already strained as a result of other important public health problems. In partnership with representatives for local and state health departments, other federal agencies, and medical and public health professional associations, CDC has developed a strategic plan to address the deliberate dissemination of biological or chemical agents. The plan contains recommendations to reduce U.S. vulnerability to biological and chemical terrorism--preparedness planning, detection and surveillance, laboratory analysis, emergency response, and communication systems. Training and research are integral components for achieving these recommendations. Success of the plan hinges on strengthening the relationships between medical and public health professionals and on building new partnerships with emergency management, the military, and law enforcement professionals. (+info)
(8/96) Stopping poliovirus vaccination after eradication: issues and challenges.
Since 1988 reported polio cases worldwide have declined by about 85% and the number of known or suspected polioendemic countries has decreased from over 120 to less than 50. With eradication of poliomyelitis approaching, issues potentially affecting when and how vaccination against poliovirus can be stopped become extremely important. Because of the potential risks and benefits inherent in such a decision, the best available science, a risk-benefit analysis, contingency plans, a stock pile of poliovirus vaccines, and the endorsement by the global policy-making committees will all be needed before vaccination can be discontinued. The scientific basis for stopping polio immunization has been reviewed by WHO. This Round Table article summarizes the current state of knowledge, provides an update on the processes and timelines for certification, containment, and stopping vaccination, and highlights some of the unanswered scientific questions that will be addressed by further research. These include whether transmission of vaccine-derived poliovirus strains could be sustained so that poliomyelitis could re-emerge in a future unvaccinated population and whether prolonged excretion of vaccine-derived poliovirus from individuals with immune deficiencies could be a mechanism through which this could occur. (+info)