US Preparing For
BioTerrorism Attack
From Patricia Doyle, PhD <>
I think that we are taking a step in the right direction when we gear up the healthcare system to handle victims of a bioterrorist event.
However, there is a need for people to have their own supply of antibiotics. Tablet form Doxycycline or Ciprofloxacin can be stored infdefinitely if kept in freezer.
The laws need to be changed to accommodate people who wish to purchase preventive antibiotics. In a City with a population of 7.5 million, how would antibiotics get to that population?
Even if the pharmaceutical companies could manufacture enough antibiotics for a 10 day supply for 7.5 million people, how would we get the medication to the people. If there is a central dispensing point, it would take some 45,000 personnel to distribute antibiotics. If we do a home delivery dispensing, it would take between 100,000 to 200,000 people to bring medication to peoples homes.
If people have a personal supply of antibiotics, then they won't need to be in the street looking for medicine. Quarantines won't be broken, rioting won't take place and black marketeers won't be coming into ground zero selling medication. Those are all very good reasons to change the law allowing for preventative antibiotic sales.
I also believe that people should maintain at least a 10 day supply of storable food, water purification tablets, and personal supplies. This ounce of prevention will allow the streets to be kept clear for ambulance and first responder personnel. In a serious event there will be many dead to bury and the streets will be a very unfriendly place to be.
One other thought to consider: If an event takes place, hospitals, pharmacists, and medical personnel may, themselves, be victims. In a bioevent, there may be no relying on anyone but yourself. Prepare as if the event was going to happen tomorrow.
Health Facilities Gear For Bioterrorism
By Shari Rudavsky < 9-20-00
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta is launching a $155 million national ``bioterrorism'' preparedness program -- of which about $40 million will go to state health departments, including slightly more than $1 million to Florida.
The allocation is designed to ramp up local emergency response systems in the event of a strike by terrorists with biological weapons.
CDC's program comes after several South Florida hospitals have conducted drills and delivered special suits to workers should a bioterrorist incident occur at their facility.
In the event of an emergency, the federal government will alert Jackson Memorial Medical Center officials to the danger.
While no such alert has ever been issued, the hospital held a drill at the Orange Bowl in the spring, said Juan D. Reyes, administrator for risk management for the Public Health Trust.
Hospital personnel set up external areas to isolate the victims. Patients were decontaminated in external showers before they entered the hospital, and the personnel treating them wore special suits to protect against infection.
``We are the tertiary care center for South Florida, and if there is a major disaster, most people will end up at Jackson Memorial,'' Reyes said.
In Broward County, both Broward General Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale and Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood have similar plans.
``Since the potential is there, it's far better to plan for even the slightest potential of that threat than to be suddenly faced with reality and then try to deal with it,'' said Richard Wistner, director of security for the Memorial Healthcare System.
``We're in a bioscience renaissance,'' said Dr. Scott Lillibridge, director of the CDC's bioterrorism preparedness and response program, which began about a year and a half ago. ``There's just a tremendous amount of new biotechnology out there. Who's to say this will all be used for humanitarian purposes?''
Much of the CDC's efforts are aimed at improving the public health infrastructure, which government officials say has declined in recent years and might not effectively respond if a terrorist unleashed a biological agent. The program also is developing a national stockpile of vaccines and drugs to fight such microbes.
What makes bioterrorism particularly insidious, as compared to a bomb or chemical agent, is that doctors may not realize the source of the illness, causing delays that could increase the number of victims.
``In the bioterrorist attack, the medical professional is the key professional in the response, because they would be the ones recognizing that something was released,'' said Dr. Mark Kortepeter of the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease.
This month, the institute will host a satellite broadcast for health officials on biological weapons. The session will focus on the five most likely agents of biological warfare: anthrax, the plague, smallpox, the botulin toxin, and the rysin toxin.
Every bit of information helps, says Dr. Robert Self, medical executive director of the Broward County Health Department and a member of a state working group on bioterrorism.
``A lot of these people have never seen a case of smallpox,'' Self said.
To encourage local medical professionals to gain expertise, the state group is exploring the idea of starting a special certification program for people who would respond in the event of a terrorist attack, Self said. This program could blossom into a pilot for other states, he said.
The department is exploring using Palm Pilots in the field to help speed up its response rate and improve communications should an emergency occur.
In October, the South Florida Hospital and Healthcare Association will host a workshop for its members, focusing on bioterrorism.

This Site Served by TheHostPros