Three essential capabilities of such a quick response team are the ability to: (1) rapidly identify a pathogen used in a bioattack
; (2) develop an effective treatment; and (3) administer treatment and inoculation to the appropriate populations.
The incubation period of a microbial agent can be days or weeks; unlike a bombing, knifing, or chemical dispersion, a bioattack
might not be recognized until long after the agent's release.
In 2001, a bioattack
of weaponized anthrax galvanized America's public health care force to create a new model of emergency health response.
will come with no such warning," said the report from the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism.
Emerging scientific disciplines (notably genomics, nanotechnology, and other microsciences) could pave the way for a bioattack
And he said further that terrorists could be inspired by amateur genetic tinkering to launch a devastating bioattack
As part of a prompt defense against bioterrorism, the assay we describe must be followed by a more detailed analysis with other specific PCR smallpox reagent sets (26, 31) to customize vaccination and treatment to the contaminant virus, because it is possible that a bioattack
could be carried out not only with wild-type virus but also with genetically modified pathogenic orthopoxviruses (32).
As an example, he notes, "There is no means of saying, Will one dollar on missile defense be better spent on preparing the local public-health-system response to a bioattack
? If there is a smallpox attack, it could be equivalent to a nuclear missile attack." What inhibits rational planning and management, he asserts, is that the Bush Administration has an ideological objection to a strong federal role in domestic security.
Portable mass spectrometry devices could open novel approaches to detecting a bioattack
. Cotter's team is one of several looking into a means to detect, within hours of exposure, whether a bacterial or viral agent has infected a person.
The best strategy for preparedness is to effectively manage and realign existing resources to accommodate the complexities of a bioattack
. Entirely new systems and bureaucracies are neither necessary nor desirable.
It did not portray the potential of a competently executed bioattack
. An ignored and likely target population for the rapid spread of a bioattack
disease is the homeless, who avoid official channels.
Tucker, a thoughtful man who has written recent books about toxic weapons and about the resurging threat of smallpox, told me then that while low-tech terrorist strikes such as food poisonings were always possible, a major bioattack