Bioterror: Anthrax, Influenza, and the Future of Public Health Security

Bioterror: Anthrax, Influenza, and the Future of Public Health Security

Bioterror: Anthrax, Influenza, and the Future of Public Health Security

Bioterror: Anthrax, Influenza, and the Future of Public Health Security

Synopsis

This book uses the 2001 anthrax attacks as its point of departure for an analysis of the past, present, and future of America's preparedness to deal with major challenges to public health, including bioterrorism and pandemic flu. The study identified the strength and weaknesses of the system while making recommendations for improvements. This allows the U.S. to be better prepared if faced with a larger or different biological threat. This book looks for linkages not only between bioterrorists and pandemic defenses, but also between public health security and the wider field of homeland security. Johnstone highlights some key "foundation" plans and strategies that are to serve as a basis for public health security. Failure to address these crucial issues not only creates unfounded mandates but also inhibits priority setting, leadership, and accountablity.

Excerpt

On the morning of September 11, 2001, I was working as the legislative director for U.S. Senator Max Cleland (D-GA) in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, DC when four planes were hijacked by foreign terrorists. After the crashes of the aircraft into the World Trade Center in New York and the nearby Pentagon, I helped evacuate the Senator’s office. In the days and weeks that followed the shock of those events, our office, like most of Capitol Hill, focused on responding to them.

A little over a month later, on October 15, 2001, the Capitol and nation were hit by another attack, this one involving the opening of a letter containing anthrax spores in the Hart Senate Office Building suite of U.S. Senator Tom Daschle (D-SD) that was only about a hundred yards away through an open passageway from my own room. Along with many other Senate workers, a few members of Senator Cleland’s staff (not including me), who were thought to have possibly been exposed, were tested and put on ciprofloxacin, which was the preferred treatment for inhalational anthrax. The Hart Building was closed on October 17. As the seriousness of the situation and the extent of the contamination became better understood (including the discovery that the mailroom in the Dirksen basement had traces of anthrax), the Dirksen Building was shuttered on October 20, 2001 and our staff had to “telecommute” from our widely dispersed homes.

Although none of the Cleland staff members tested positive, and none of the few dozen Senate workers who were found to have been exposed subsequently developed an infection, and though the Dirksen Building was opened several weeks later (with the Hart Building following in January . . .

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