In addition to meeting the continuing threat of new and reemerging infectious diseases, public health officials must also prepare for the possible use of infectious agents as weapons by terrorists to further personal or political agendas. These were the conclusions of session panelists. The potential spectrum of bioterrorism ranges from hoaxes and use of non-mass casualty devices and agents by individuals and small groups to state-sponsered terrorism that employs classic biological warfare agents and can produce mass casualties. If released under ideal environmental circumstances, certain agents can infect hundreds of thousands of persons and cause many deaths. Such scenarios would present serious challenges for patient management and for prophylaxis of exposed persons; environmental contamination could provide a continuing threat to the population and generate panic in the community.
United States. Centers for Disease Control: http://www.ftp.cdc.gov
Emerging Infectious Diseases (July-September 1998), v.4, no.3, p.493-494