As a result of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, bioterrorism has become a real and significant public health threat for the United States. The nation’s public health infrastructure is in the process of becoming equipped to adequately detect and respond to a bioterrorist event. Knowledgeable and prepared professionals and citizens provide the best defense against terrorism.
Bioterrorism is the overt or covert dispensing of disease pathogens for the purpose of causing death or disease. Biological terrorism agents include both living microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, and parasites), and toxins (chemicals) produced by microorganisms, plants, or animals.
Public Health has a critical role in bioterrorism preparedness and response that includes surveillance and early detection, laboratory support for disease confirmation, and epidemiology to determine exposure location and affected persons.
Bioterrorism is easy to accomplish but difficult to trace because:
- Small amounts can have devastating effects
- Agents are invisible, odorless, and tasteless
- Agents are easy to obtain and difficult to detect
- Civilian populations are unprotected
- Onset is delayed.
As with any notifiable condition, quick and prompt action, including reporting, must occur. Report any notifiable condition, suspected outbreaks, or unusual expressions of illness to:
Fort Bend County Health and Human Services: (281) 342-6414
Fort Bend County Local Health Authority pager: (281) 434-6757
Texas Department of Health: (800) 705-8868