Plague is a disease that is caused by the bacterium, Yersinia pestis. Humans usually get plague after being bitten by a rodent flea that is carrying the plague bacterium or by handling an animal infected with plague. Plague is infamous for killing millions of people in Europe during the Middle Ages.
Today, modern antibiotics are effective in treating plague. Without prompt treatment, the disease can cause serious illness or death.
CIDRAP was founded in 2001 and is a global leader in addressing public health preparedness and emerging infectious disease response. Part of the Academic Health Center at the University of Minnesota, CIDRAP is led by Michael Osterholm, PhD, MPH, director and professor, Division of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, an adjunct professor in the Medical School, and an internationally renowned expert in public health.
The center reduces illness and death from infectious diseases by effecting change through public policy refinement, fostering the adoption of science-based best practices in public health among professionals and the public, and conducting original interdisciplinary research.
Updated in October 2012, this tool was developed to be a comprehensive resource for clinical personnel by providing information on various aspects of biological, chemical, and radiological terrorism. It is intended to serve as an emergent guide book on what to do and where to seek information in the event of an attack.
In recent years, the fear about terrorist attacks with biological weapons has grown. This article addresses issues related to biological warfare and bioterrorism and gives a concise overview of the role that plague has played in the past and present as a biological weapon.
Plague is a disease that affects humans and other mammals. It is caused by the bacterium, Yersinia pestis. Humans usually get plague after being bitten by a rodent flea that is carrying the plague bacterium or by handling an animal infected with plague.Plague is infamous for killing millions of people in Europe during the Middle Ages. Today, modern antibiotics are effective in treating plague. Without prompt treatment, the disease can cause serious illness or death. Presently, human plague infections continue to occur in the western United States, but significantly more cases occur in parts of Africa and Asia.
Plague has received much attention because it may be used as a biological weapon. Intentionally released aerosols would cause pneumonic plague.
In order to prepare for such an event, it is important for medical personnel and first responders to form a realistic idea of the risk of person-to-person spread of infection. Historical accounts and contemporary experience show that pneumonic plague is not as contagious as it is commonly believed to be. Persons with plague usually only transmit the infection when the disease is in the endstage, when infected persons cough copious amounts of bloody sputum, and only by means of close contact.
Anthrax is an acute infectious disease caused by the spore-forming bacterium Bacillus anthracis. Anthrax most commonly occurs in wild and domestic mammalian species (cattle, sheep, goats, camels, antelopes, and other herbivores), but it can also occur in humans when they are exposed to infected animals or to tissue from infected animals or when anthrax spores are used as a bioterrorist weapon.
In the event of a situation with grossly contaminated premises or persons, a Hazmat response is appropriate. In other situations, personal protective equipment (PPE) beyond gloves is not required and the following guidelines are recommended.