Need we really fear an Anthrax attack?

Essay by GRabneyCollege, Undergraduate December 2002

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Need we really fear an Anthrax attack?

According to Fields, the fear of biological weapons such as anthrax may be more likely to create illness than the weapons themselves (Fields 6). As television, radio and newspapers continually barrage the public with stories of anthrax deaths, anthrax exposures and possible uses of anthrax as a weapon, no matter how remote those chances might be, the media is in danger of becoming more of a terrorist group that those we are being told to fear.

The reality of the anthrax scare so far is one death from anthrax and several cases of exposure in the United States, but the sensationalism of anthrax has thrown the bacterium into the headlines in recent weeks, sparking fears of a widespread attack and prompting false alarms around North America

Already, there are reports of mass sociogenic illness, where groups of people react in fear to a perceived threat to the point that they actually incur the symptoms that they fear.

In the last month paint fumes set off a bioterrorism scare Washington State University, sending 16 students and a teacher to the hospital. Just after the beginning of the current anthrax scare a liquid, which turned out to be window-cleaning fluid, was sprayed at a Maryland subway station. As many as 35 people reported nausea, headache and sore throat. Eight people in New Jersey were sent to the hospital in panic after confronting a spilled container of a sugar substitute. (Easton 4). Indeed it is not beyond the possibility that while there might not be any more cases of illness due to anthrax exposure, Long-term social or psychological damage could very possibly be the result of panic caused by the news of anthrax attacks. In fact researchers in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia have...