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Biological and Chemical Agents  
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Biological Agents

A biological attack is the deliberate release of germs or other biological substances that can make you sick. Many agents must be inhaled, enter through a cut in the skin or be eaten to make you sick. Some biological agents, such as anthrax, do not cause contagious diseases. Others, like the smallpox virus, can result in diseases you can catch from other people. (Source: Ready.gov arrow icon)

Category A (definition arrow icon) Biological Agents include:
Anthrax

Anthrax is a serious disease caused by Bacillus anthracis, a bacterium that forms spores. A bacterium is a very small organism made up of one cell. Many bacteria can cause disease. A spore is a cell that is dormant (asleep) but may come to life with the right conditions (source: CDC) arrow icon

In the United States, the annual incidence of naturally-occurring human anthrax declined from estimated 130 cases annually in the early 1900's to <2 cases each in 2000, 2001, and 2002. The recent cases of anthrax that occurred after B. anthracis spores were distributed through the U.S. mail have further underscored the potential dangers of this organism as a bioterrorism threat. (source: CDC) arrow icon

For detailed information:

Botulism

Botulism is a rare but serious paralytic illness caused by a nerve toxin that is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. All forms of botulism can be fatal and are considered medical emergencies.

In the United States an average of 110 cases of botulism are reported each year. Of these, approximately 25% are foodborne, 72% are infant botulism, and the rest are wound botulism.(source: CDC) arrow icon

For detailed information:

Plague

Plague is a disease caused by Yersinia pestis (Y. pestis), a bacterium found in rodents and their fleas in many areas around the world.

The World Health Organization reports 1,000 to 3,000 cases of plague worldwide every year. An average of 5 to 15 cases occur each year in the western United States. These cases are usually scattered and occur in rural to semi-rural areas. Most cases are of the bubonic form of the disease. Naturally occurring pneumonic plague is uncommon, although small outbreaks do occur. Both types of plague are readily controlled by standard public health response measures. (source: CDC) arrow icon

For detailed information:

Smallpox

Smallpox is a serious, contagious, and sometimes fatal infectious disease. There is no specific treatment for smallpox disease, and the only prevention is vaccination. The name smallpox is derived from the Latin word for "spotted" and refers to the raised bumps that appear on the face and body of an infected person.

Smallpox outbreaks have occurred from time to time for thousands of years, but the disease is now eradicated after a successful worldwide vaccination program. The last case of smallpox in the United States was in 1949. The last naturally occurring case in the world was in Somalia in 1977. After the disease was eliminated from the world, routine vaccination against smallpox among the general public was stopped because it was no longer necessary for prevention. (source: CDC) arrow icon

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Tularemia

Tularemia is a potentially serious illness that occurs naturally in the United States. It is caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis found in animals (especially rodents, rabbits, and hares). (source: CDC) arrow icon

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Viral hemorrhagic fevers

Viral hemorrhagic fevers (VHFs) refer to a group of illnesses that are caused by several distinct families of viruses. In general, the term "viral hemorrhagic fever" is used to describe a severe multisystem syndrome (multisystem in that multiple organ systems in the body are affected).

Taken together, the viruses that cause VHFs are distributed over much of the globe. However, because each virus is associated with one or more particular host species, the virus and the disease it causes are usually seen only where the host species live(s). (source: CDC) arrow icon

For detailed information:



Chemical Agents

A chemical attack is the deliberate release of a toxic gas, liquid or solid that can poison people and the environment. (Source: Ready.gov arrow icon)

The Center for Disease Control maintains a comprehensive list of chemical agents arrow icon including FAQs, information for first responders, toxicology, and medical management guidelines.

For detailed information:


Public Health Emergency Preparedness Home

New Jersey Department of Health Centers for Disease Control and Prevention New Jersey Goverment Home Page Federal Emergency Management Agency
United States Dept. of Health and Human Services United States Dept. of Homeland Security Ready.Gov njhomelandsecurity.gov




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