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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 204282 Find in a Library
Title: Anthrax 2001: Observations on the Medical and Public Health Response
Journal: Biosecurity and Bioterrorism: Biodefense Strategy, Practice, and Science  Volume:1  Issue:2  Dated:2003  Pages:97-110
Author(s): Elin Gursky; Thomas V. Inglesby; Tara O'Toole
Date Published: 2003
Page Count: 14
Document: HTML
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article describes aspects of the medical and public health response to the 2001 anthrax attacks based on interviews with individuals who were directly involved in the response.
Abstract: Since the anthrax attacks of 2001, there has been no comprehensive published analysis of the medical and public health response to these events. This article describes aspects of the medical and public health response based on interviews with individuals who were directly involved in the response. The authors interviewed clinicians, public health professionals, government officials, journalists, union representatives, and others who were directly involved in the five geographical areas where the anthrax attacks took place. A total of 37 persons were interviewed. This article does not focus on the actions taken by individual hospitals, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), or other Federal agencies, but rather presents the specific challenges and successful strategies that interviewees had observed or identified during the response to the attacks. These issues include: the traditional public health decisionmaking processes were not adequate to cope with the extent, pace, and complexities of events surrounding the attacks; city, county, and State health officials within States, and across State borders, had difficulty acquiring and sharing information; the lack of anthrax experience at the CDC left the CDC and State local public health agencies with an array of scientific uncertainties; public health guidance was not being issued fast enough to guide many necessary clinical decisions; strategies for responding to the media were not in place; and the public health system lacks sufficient personnel, resources, and operational systems necessary to respond to attacks of this magnitude. In conclusion, the interviews revealed several themes that might usefully be considered by those responsible for bioterrorism preparedness and planning. These include: expectations about Federal, State, and local public health responsibilities require clarification; medical preparedness requires better communications among physicians and between medical and public health communities; the public and the media must recognize that response to bioterror attacks will evolve; health officials must prepare to handle the media storm; and public health resources are barely adequate for a small-scale bioterror attack. Footnotes and a chronology of key events following the attacks
Main Term(s): Anthrax; Emergency procedures
Index Term(s): Biological weapons; Disaster procedures; Emergency operations centers; Facilities; Hospitals; Public Health Service
Note: Downloaded February 23, 2004.
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