Over the years, biological warfare has evolved. While biological weapons were initially used to win wars over territory are now being used to target civilians to achieve political goals. The Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, and Stockpiling of Bacterioloigcal (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction Convention of 1972 lacked provisions for enforcement and verification (Kadlec et al, 1997). As a result, most if not all of the signatories have maintained their biowarfare programs (Kadlec et al, 1997). The U.S. is completely vulnerable to bioterrorism attacks. Most public places are impossible to harden. Government and businesses should invest in anthrax detectors. In the event of an attack this will help to confirm what the agent was which should accelerate reaction and recovery.
Biological weapons offer terrorist organizations and nation-states an affordable way to inflict a significant amount of damage (Durch & Joellenbeck, 2004). Out of all of the available biological weapons, anthrax is the most likely to be used because it is easy to produce, remains viable when stored, and could cause many fatalities if dispersed into a ventilation system of a federal agency (Durch & Joellenbeck, 2004). Employees reporting to medical and pretending to show symptoms of inhalation anthrax (sore throat, mild fever, fatigue and muscle aches, chest discomfort, shortness of breath, nausea, coughing up blood, painful swallowing (Durch & Joellenbeck, 2004). It will be up to medical to realize that these are all symptoms of a biological weapons attack and initiate the response. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) will be called to confirm that there has been an attack and what the biological weapon was to accelerate reaction and recovery (Durch & Joellenbeck, 2004). The CDC with the help of local police departments and fire departments will quarantine the area and determine where the outbreak originated. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) will be tasked with finding the individual or organization which was responsible for the attack and bringing them to justice.
The CDC and the FBI would ideally share information throughout the investigation. Both agencies encourage employees to attend the Joint-Criminal Epidemiological Investigations course where they can learn about each other’s terminology, roles, objectives, and methods. It also gives employees an opportunity to make professional connections that they can rely on throughout their careers. There is also a Joint-Criminal Epidemiological Investigations which contains each agencies procedures and practical examples. Unfortunately, the CDC and the FBI do not have many technological mechanisms in place to facilitate information sharing. The National Health Policy Forum found that there are several best practices which should be implemented at the local, state, regional, and national levels to respond and recover from a bioterrorism attack. At the local level, there should be a link between hospitals, police departments, fire departments, and a link to the state and federal agencies which will coordinate with them once they arrive (Strogin, 2001). This link should be used not only to communicate but to routinely share syndromic information so that epidemics can be discovered as soon as they begin (Strogin, 2001). There are on-going discussions about creating a “cloud” where both agencies can upload real-time information during investigations but the agencies have not decided who will take “ownership” of the project and how much each agency will have to provide in funding (Hayashi & Papagiotas, 2010).
Durch, J. S., Benet, L. Z., & Joellenbeck, L. M. (Eds.). (2004). Giving Full Measure to Countermeasures:: Addressing Problems in the DoD Program to Develop Medical Countermeasures Against Biological Warfare Agents. National Academies Press.
Hayashi, K. E., & Papagiotas, S. S. (2010). The Federal Bureau of Investigation/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Joint Criminal and Epidemiological Investigations Course: Enhancing Relationships to Improve Biothreat Readiness.Prehospital and Disaster Medicine,25(S1), S23-S23.
Kadlec, R. P., Zelicoff, A. P., & Vrtis, A. M. (1997). Biological weapons control: prospects and implications for the future. Jama, 278(5), 351-356.
Strongin, R. J. (2001). Emergency Preparedness from a Health Perspective: Preparing for Bioterrorism at the Federal, State and Local Levels. Washington, DC: National Health Policy Forum, Georgetown University.
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