Bioterrorist attacks in the United States

Essay by smitty5050University, Bachelor'sA, February 2007

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There has been much publicity about the threat of bioterrorist attacks in the United States. Usually, the agent cited as the most likely to be used is the smallpox virus. The federal government has recommended that only certain public health and health care workers be vaccinated. If a major outbreak of smallpox were to occur however, the country would need to rely on more than just public health and health care workers.

Instead, members of all critical areas of public service, such as police officers and fire/rescue personnel would be needed and so, they too, should be vaccinated.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have published a list of disease that are of the highest concern as bioterrorism agents. Each agent has one or more of the following characteristics: it can be easily spread from person to person, it can cause high mortality rate, it can cause public panic and fear, or it can require special action for public health preparedness.

Topping this list of these possible biological threats is the smallpox virus. Humans have faced the threat of smallpox for thousands of years. According to historians, smallpox first developed as a disease among people in ancient Egypt, sometime before 1500 B.C. From there it most likely traveled eastward along the trade routes to Persia and India. By A.D. 580-581, a fatal disease closely resembling smallpox was sweeping across northern Italy and southern France. The spread of smallpox continued and an epidemic of the disease swept through western Europe during the 1300s. The virus, unimpeded, was rampant in Europe during the 18th century and approximately 60 million people died as a result. When Europeans began their explorations in the New World, smallpox traveled with them. The disease was new in the Americas, and the native inhabitants, having no immunity,