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Status Brief

Developmental Milestones/Developments to Date:

Current Assessment/State of the Field:




Benjamin, Georges C. “Chemical and Biological Terrorism: Planning for the WorstPhysician Executive Volume 26 Issue 1. 80. January/February 2000.

  1. Chemical or biological terrorism is the use of pathogenic microbes or toxins derived from plants, animals, microbes, or chemical agents to achieve terror.” – page 80
  2. ”Chemical and biological weapons, like nuclear weapons, are categorized as weapons of mass destruction (WMD) because of the high number of potential victims that can result from their use.” – page 80 *
  3. ”While any chemical can be weaponized, the chemical agents traditionally of concern fall into four categories: nerve agents like sarin, which create an anticholinergic-like syndrome; vesicants like mustard gas, that cause a blistering or burn-like syndrome; cyanide, which interrupts aerobic metabolism; and riot control agents such as mace, which generally cause incapacitation.” – page 80
  4. ”Biological agents act like chemical agents but have a slower onset of action. Agents of concern include Ricin.” – page 81
  5. ”The ideal bioweapon is hard to detect from the usual microbial flora, has person-to-person spread, and is easy to aerosolize. There are two groups of organisms of public health concern: those that cause a high morbidity or a high mortality.” – page 81
  6. ”Examples of high morbidity organisms include salmonella, cholera, or E. coli. The number of highly toxic organisms is fortunately quite low and includes anthrax, smallpox, and the viruses that cause hemorrhagic fevers, plague, brucellosis, and tularemia.” – page 81
  7. “Clues that biological terrorist events have occurred include an unexplained increase in respiratory cases or deaths, or dead and dying animals. Epidemiological clues include diseases with the wrong mode of transmission, which occur in an inappropriate geographic distribution or infect a new or novel population.” – page 81
  8. “Components of a biological/chemical terrorism disaster plan: plan how to identify the threat; develop an effective public health disease surveillance system; link the public health system and the traditional medical care delivery system; develop command and control systems; determine hospital bed availability; define disease containment, isolation, and quarantine procedures; plan how to obtain extra life support equipment such as respirators; plan how to train clinical staff to identify high-risk unusual diseases; ensure non-clinical staff are trained on the management of suspicious packages and mail; identify experts; plan simple handling and transport; plan how to communicate high risk information; manage medical examiner cases; and maintain a crime scene.” – page 81
  9. ”Effective disease control strategies such as case finding, decontamination, prophylaxis and vaccination, and quarantine must be defined.” – page 82

Chemical, WMD, Bioterrorism, Public Health, Military, Sarin, Japan, Ricin, E. coli, Cholera, Salmonella, Anthrax, Smallpox, Hemorrhagic fever, Plague, Brucellosis, Tularemia, Prophylaxis, Vaccination, Quarantine


Atlas, Ronald, “National Security and the LabMedical Laboratory Observer, Volume 35, Issue 9. 52. September 2003.

  1. ”The aftermath of anthrax attacks following the horrific 9/11 events increased fear that terrorists could acquire deadly pathogens from legitimate U.S. laboratories, which led to a series of laws and regulations directly impacting clinical microbiology laboratories.” – page 52
  2. ”Enhancement of clinical and public health laboratories is key to the nation’s biodefense capabilities, so the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to develop protocols for diagnostic laboratories to recognize and handle major biothreat agents.” – page 52
  3. ”Since clinical labs have been the sources of the agents used in prior acts of bioterrorism or biocrimes, (e.g., the 1989 use of salmonella by the Rajneesh cult in Dalles, OR), they must exercise appropriate oversight as to who is given access to any pathogen which can be misused to cause harm.” – page 52
  4. ”Clinical labs wishing to retain select agents as clinical specimens or reference standards must meet all of the registration requirements of the Biopreparedness Act, including imposing strict biosecurity procedures and obtaining Department of Justice clearance for all individuals with access to the select agents.” – page 52
  5. ”The CDC and USDA must maintain accurate tracking of the acquisition, transfer and possession of these select agents, and must establish safeguards and biosecurity procedures to be followed by institutions possessing select agents.” – page 52
  6. ”The FBI is responsible for conducting security risk assessments of individuals seeking access to listed agents and toxins, and individuals or entities seeking to register under the Act.” – page 52
  7. ”The Biopreparedness Act, a new regulatory burden, should have minimal impact. The greatest impact is likely to be on the labs in the western United States where plague, tularemia, and coccidioidomycoses occur.” – page 52

Public Health, Lab Security, Anthrax, Salmonella, Tularemia, Plague, CDC, Bioterrorism, Biodefense, Biosecurity


Byers, Karen, B., “Biosafety and Biosecurity: Past and Present,” Address, 2009 APHL Annual Meeting, May 5-8, 2009.

  1. Laboratory Acquired Infections.
  2. “There is no national reporting system; no statistical epidemiological data,” (for Laboratory acquired infections.)
  3. “Reports in the scientific literature tell us that laboratory-acquired infections can and do occur. Insight, but not statistics, are available from literature surveys.”
  4. “Clinical laboratories: 471 bacterial LAI between 1979-2004.”
  5. “Fatalities: 11 N. meningitidis, two Salmonella (1 one was secondary); four fetuses were fatally infected by B. melitensis.”
  6. Citing: “Biological Safety Principles and Practices, 4th edition.2006.Fleming, Hunt Ed. ASM Press.”

Lab Safety, N. meningitidis, Salmonella