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Emergency Sign


Recognize an Illness Associated with Bioterrorism

Health-care providers should be alert for illness patterns and diagnostic clues that might indicate an unusual infectious disease outbreak associated with the intentional release of a biologic agent and should report them. The covert release of a biologic agent may not have an immediate impact because of the delay between exposure and illness onset, and outbreaks associated with intentional releases might closely resemble naturally occurring outbreaks.


Indications of intentional release of a biologic agent

  • An unusual temporal or geographic clustering of illness
    • Persons who attended the same public event or gathering
    • Patients presenting with clinical signs and symptoms that suggest an infectious disease outbreak, such as several patients presenting with an unexplained febrile illness, sepsis, pneumonia, respiratory failure, or rash
  • An unusual age distribution for common diseases
    • An increase in what appears to be a chickenpox-like illness among Adult patients, but which might be smallpox
  • A large number of cases of acute flaccid paralysis with prominent bulbar palsies, suggestive of a release of botulinum toxin.


Potential bioterrorism agents and resources
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