Implications of pandemic influenza for bioterrorism response.
The 1918-1919 influenza pandemic (Spanish flu) had catastrophic effects upon urban populations in the United States. Large numbers of frightened, critically ill people overwhelmed health care providers. Mortuaries and cemeteries were severely strained by rapid accumulation of corpses of flu victims. Understanding of the outbreak's extent and effectiveness of containment measures was obscured by the swiftness of the disease and an inadequate health reporting system. Epidemic controls such as closing public gathering places elicited both community support and resistance, and fear of contagion incited social and ethnic tensions. Review of this infamous outbreak is intended to advance discussions among health professionals and policymakers about an effective medical and public health response to bioterrorism, an infectious disease crisis of increasing likelihood. Elements of an adequate response include building capacity to care for mass casualties, providing emergency burials that respect social mores, properly characterizing the outbreak, earning public confidence in epidemic containment measures, protecting against social discrimination, and fairly allocating health resources. (+info)
Infection in the twenty-first century: predictions and postulates.
The late Paul Garrod, in whose honour this lecture is named, was 'the right man at the right time'. He seized the opportunities offered by the dawning of the chemotherapeutic era with vigour and enthusiasm and was a formidable link between the traditional laboratory-based bacteriologist and the more clinically orientated 'modern' medical microbiologist. Professor Garrod was a founder member of the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy and I had the privilege of meeting him on many occasions. He would have relished the many challenges facing today's microbiologists, infectious disease physicians and public health experts. These will have major implications for antimicrobial chemotherapy in the twenty-first century. The emergence and prevalence of infectious diseases, and the necessity for discovering therapies to treat them, are influenced by many factors. In this lecture I will discuss four which could have a major influence on infectious diseases in the twenty-first century-global warming, biological warfare/terrorism, the dissemination of infections, including those caused by resistant pathogens, by travellers and certain untreatable zoonotic diseases. (+info)
The role of the clinical laboratory in managing chemical or biological terrorism.
BACKGROUND: Domestic and international acts of terrorism using chemicals and pathogens as weapons have recently attracted much attention because of several hoaxes and real incidents. Clinical laboratories, especially those affiliated with major trauma centers, should be prepared to respond rapidly by providing diagnostic tests for the detection and identification of specific agents, so that specific therapy and victim management can be initiated in a timely manner. As first-line responders, clinical laboratory personnel should become familiar with the various chemical or biological agents and be active participants in their local defense programs. APPROACH: We review the selected agents previously considered or used in chemical and biological warfare, outline their poisonous and pathogenic effects, describe techniques used in their identification, address some of the logistical and technical difficulties in maintaining such tests in clinical laboratories, and comment on some of the analytical issues, such as specimen handling and personal protective equipment. CONTENT: The chemical agents discussed include nerve, blistering, and pulmonary agents and cyanides. Biological agents, including anthrax and smallpox, are also discussed as examples for organisms with potential use in bioterrorism. Available therapies for each agent are outlined to assist clinical laboratory personnel in making intelligent decisions regarding implementation of diagnostic tests as a part of a comprehensive defense program. SUMMARY: As the civilian medical community prepares for biological and chemical terrorist attacks, improvement in the capabilities of clinical laboratories is essential in supporting counterterrorism programs designed to respond to such attacks. Accurate assessment of resources in clinical laboratories is important because it will provide local authorities with an alternative resource for immediate diagnostic analysis. It is, therefore, recommended that clinical laboratories identify their current resources and the extent of support they can provide, and inform the authorities of their state of readiness. (+info)
Lessons from the West Nile viral encephalitis outbreak in New York City, 1999: implications for bioterrorism preparedness.
The involvement and expertise of infectious disease physicians, microbiologists, and public health practitioners are essential to the early detection and management of epidemics--both those that are naturally occurring, such as the 1999 outbreak of West Nile virus (WN virus) in New York City, and those that might follow covert acts of bioterrorism. The experience with the WN virus outbreak offers practical lessons in outbreak detection, laboratory diagnosis, investigation, and response that might usefully influence planning for future infectious disease outbreaks. Many of the strategies used to detect and respond to the WN virus outbreak resemble those that would be required to confront other serious infectious disease threats, such as pandemic influenza or bioterrorism. We provide an overview of the critical elements needed to manage a large-scale, fast-moving infectious disease outbreak, and we suggest ways that the existing public health capacity might be strengthened to ensure an effective response to both natural and intentional disease outbreaks. (+info)
A plague on your city: observations from TOPOFF.
The United States Congress directed the Department of Justice to conduct an exercise engaging key personnel in the management of mock chemical, biological, or cyberterrorist attacks. The resulting exercise was called "TOPOFF," named for its engagement of top officials of the United States government. This article offers a number of medical and public health observations and lessons discovered during the bioterrorism component of the exercise. The TOPOFF exercise illuminated problematic issues of leadership and decision-making; the difficulties of prioritization and distribution of scarce resources; the crisis that contagious epidemics would cause in health care facilities; and the critical need to formulate sound principles of disease containment. These lessons should provoke consideration of future directions for bioterrorism planning and preparedness at all levels of government and among the many communities and practitioners with responsibilities for national security and public health. (+info)
Risks and prevention of nosocomial transmission of rare zoonotic diseases.
Americans are increasingly exposed to exotic zoonotic diseases through travel, contact with exotic pets, occupational exposure, and leisure pursuits. Appropriate isolation precautions are required to prevent nosocomial transmission of rare zoonotic diseases for which person-to-person transmission has been documented. This minireview provides guidelines for the isolation of patients and management of staff exposed to the following infectious diseases with documented person-to-person transmission: Andes hantavirus disease, anthrax, B virus infection, hemorrhagic fevers (due to Ebola, Marburg, Lassa, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, Argentine hemorrhagic fever, and Bolivian hemorrhagic fever viruses), monkeypox, plague, Q fever, and rabies. Several of these infections may also be encountered as bioterrorism hazards (i.e., anthrax, hemorrhagic fever viruses, plague, and Q fever). Adherence to recommended isolation precautions will allow for proper patient care while protecting the health care workers who provide care to patients with known or suspected zoonotic infections capable of nosocomial transmission. (+info)
Infectious diseases: considerations for the 21st century.
The discipline of infectious diseases will assume added prominence in the 21st century in both developed and developing nations. To an unprecedented extent, issues related to infectious diseases in the context of global health are on the agendas of world leaders, health policymakers, and philanthropies. This attention has focused both on scientific challenges such as vaccine development and on the deleterious effects of infectious diseases on economic development and political stability. Interest in global health has led to increasing levels of financial support, which, combined with recent technological advances, provide extraordinary opportunities for infectious disease research in the 21st century. The sequencing of human and microbial genomes and advances in functional genomics will underpin significant progress in many areas, including understanding human predisposition and susceptibility to disease, microbial pathogenesis, and the development new diagnostics, vaccines, and therapies. Increasingly, infectious disease research will be linked to the development of the medical infrastructure and training needed in developing countries to translate scientific advances into operational reality. (+info)
Bioterrorism: implications for the clinical microbiologist.
The specter of bioterrorism has captured the attention of government and military officials, scientists, and the general public. Compared to other sectors of the population, clinical microbiologists are more directly impacted by concerns about bioterrorism. This review focuses on the role envisioned for clinical laboratories in response to a bioterrorist event. The microbiology and clinical aspects of the biological agents thought to be the most likely tools of bioterrorists are presented. The historical background of the problem of bioterrorism and an overview of current U.S. preparedness planning, with an emphasis on the roles of health care professionals, are also included. (+info)