Bioterrorism is the act of intentionally disseminating biological agents that may have a negative impact on the environment. The biological agents may be natural or artificial. They include bacteria, viruses and various germs present in the atmosphere. It involves using biological agents to infect people in a particular area of interest, so as to intimidate the government or that particular population. Terrorism as a whole is carried out so as to make the target population feel insecure and defeated, which is the political gain of the terrorists. The victims feel as if their government cannot protect them (Edmond Hooker, 2016). The terrorists revel in their victory and use this as a platform to relay their message. They do it so as to force the government or civilians to give it to a particular demand, which may be political or religious in nature. The usually harmless biological agents present in the atmosphere are turned into something more dangerous that can be transmitted from one person to another. Some of the biological agents that terrorists can use for their mission include Bacillus anthracis that causes a killer disease called anthrax. Another biological agent is Vibrio cholera that causes cholera which is another fatal communicable disease. These are conditions capable of spreading over a very large area within a short period.
How does the health care system deal with a bioterrorism-related situation? There are measures that the medical sector should have in place so as to deal with an attack of this nature. Health institutions’ response plans should be prepared in collaboration with state or local health departments. Bioterrorism response plans should be incorporated into the disaster and emergency management section of every health institution (English, 1999). There should be prior planning on how to take action in the eventuality of such a situation, communication channels to be used and facilities to be used for such patients.
In the case of a suspected outbreak, health centres should have an infection control program in place. Infection Control policies are meant to authorize those concerned with dealing with such an outbreak, to enact control and prevention mechanisms. There should be clear cut communication between health departments, The Federal Bureau of Investigations and other bodies that have a part to play in the follow-up to such a situation (English, 1999). There should be a constant review of emergency plans at the local level, and frequent drills carried out to test the preparation. The emergency systems and infection control practices should be activated in case of a suspected outbreak. Infection control practices include isolation, hand washing, wearing gloves when tending to suspected patients, wearing of gowns and face shields to prevent the fluids of patients from coming into contact with the skin or mucous membranes of the attendants.
The goal of having such health measures when dealing with bioterrorism is to prevent contamination of the healthy and protect the medical attendants from infection, so that they may continue providing assistance. Another control measure is quarantine, whereby movement of those in disease infested areas is restricted. No entry into or exit from such zones. The media should also communicate and inform the people on the state of affairs in such a scenario (Malone, 2001). They should also spell out the infested zones. However, the media should bring this out in a positive way so as to build hope. Communication will enable civilians to be cautious and thus minimize casualties.
The main goal of the healthcare measures executed upon suspicion or presence of bioterrorism is control of the situation before it gets out of hand. Prevention or security of the healthy and treatment of the sick is the expected response (Malone, 2001).
- Edmond Hooker, D. (2016). Bioterrorism Definition and Agents Used. MedicineNet.
- English,, J. (1999). Bioterrorism Readiness Plan: A Template for Healthcare Facilities (1st ed.). Malone,, J. (2001). Provider and health care system response to a bioterrorist attack. Baylor University Medical Center Proceedings.