First consideration that can distinguish bioterrorism from natural outbreak is to understand the reaction of any biological threats at the earliest time possible as this can help save thousands of lives. To succeed in this, all concerned health, staff should be knowledgeable to basic skills on epidemiology. This will help in differential diagnosis to enable proper management if anything suspicious to bioterrorism is evident. Indented purpose as well as unintended purpose can cause a disease out break thus proper diagnosis is fundamental to establish whether it is known or not. Proper surveillance is necessary to tract the disease’s effects from which the obtained data help establish the possible cause for respective preventive measures. An Epidemic curve from obtained data for natural outbreak has a decreasing trend indicating the outbreak control. Differently, for a bioterrorism attack, the curve is short with a sharp peak for short duration with possibility of a second peak, as the attack is contagious, irrespective of location (Pavlin, 1999). The Curve, only, does not indicate fully a bioterrorist attack, as other important information, as exposure time is crucial as it helps to determine the time for incubation, setting base for possible cause if it is intentional or natural outbreak. Intentional out breaks have shorter incubation periods compared to natural outbreaks. Thus, inadequate information call for understanding of bioterrorism as it proves fatal and complicated to distinguish it from natural outbreak for adequate defense.
In addition to the epidemic curve, other combining factors help to distinguish bioterrorist attacks from natural outbreak as none of the factors alone constitute a possible intentional attack. They are; high unusual number of cases from a widespread occurring disease suggesting a bio attack, a serious infection caused by a specific pathogen, uncommon attacks to a certain area at unusual times occurring simultaneously, fatal consequences to human and animal life and diseases that prove resistant to known medications. High infection rates at affected areas, ability to penetrate and attack the most thought secure areas, responsibility claim by renowned terrorist groups and clear evidence of exposed bio agents are other factors (Pavlin, 1999).
During the 2001 anthrax attack in the United States, serious and adverse effects to patients indicating an unknown and modified bio attack that proved unknown to Health departments, bioterrorist agent, came to exist. Despite the new modification to vaccines done without consultations, the threat was evident. In addition, the proper surveillance of the suspected contagious disease (Anthrax bio agents), lead to high concerns by the government and Health personnel including the Security staff to work hard despite the controversies arising from the entire issue, to determine that the anthrax was a fatal intended disease, thus proper vaccination was important. This called for production of new vaccines that helped check the situation (Rempfer, 2009). Moreover, from earlier reports from the United Nations, that proved the truth about the possible bio weapons, before the First Gulf War was an indicator of a bioterrorist attack. From such earlier suspicions, the 2001 anthrax attack to the U.S. proved new to the established vaccines, despite the facts that there were technical and administration problems. In addition, the involvement of the U.S. military in the Iraq war was a strong indication that their enemies, Iraq, were out to defend themselves using any possible means. In fact, the U.S had discovered the Iraq’s biological weapons program. From the health experts, they understood that the 2001 attack had fatal consequences if quick measures failed to perform and there was need for new medication that can fight bio threats like anthrax (Rempfer, 2009).
The choice of terrorism, by individuals or groups on population is that they understand that the fatal consequences would be high as it takes time to discover the cause. They also know that the contagious effect of bio agents is fast within a short period. In addition, terrorists may not have direct conduct at frontlines, with their enemies hence they can attack effectively at even far areas. Like the case of the U.S. attack, they used mailing system that many could not suspect easily, and it would reach many people without much physical detection (Pavlin, 1999). Finally, terrorists understand that the prime cause of military threats is the human beings, thus they use any possible and highly effective means to fight the enemy, and bioterrorism proves to be just that, they can kill a good percentage of their enemy, without using the physical weapons. For the U.S. military, new development of anthrax vaccine should be a mandatory as they have first encounters with the enemy and can anticipate possible attacks thus their protection if vital. Their positions help advice accordingly in development of new medications (Rempfer, 2009).
In conclusion, bioterrorism is an act that proves deadly and complicated thus, its proper understanding is fundamental to avoid confusion with natural outbreaks for proper defense. Proper surveillance help track the disease pattern to know the possible cause. During the 2001 anthrax attack to the U.S., their military foreign involvement in Iraq brought the suspicion of a bio attack as they had earlier discovered the Iraq’s bioterrorism program. For the U.S., it is important to vaccinate them against anthrax to maintain a strong defense of their country as a healthy military means a safer nation!
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