Term Paper: Bioterrorism Attack in U.S

Pages: 15 (4584 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Disease  ·  Buy This Paper

¶ … commencement of the Attack

On the 1st of December 2003, from the shores of Nigeria, 3 people boarded a plane for Hawaii. Ismaile, Tariq and Hussein had been knowingly carrying the deadly disease of the Ebola virus, which the Nigerian authorities had failed to detect at the airport. Ismaile, Tariq and Hussein, soon became friendly and made quick acquaintances with everyone on the plane.

After the 7-hour flight, the three Nigerians, like all other passengers went through the same health procedure, this time the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) Quarantine Station in Honolulu warned the passengers about a possible Ebola affected passenger on the plane, however, due to the negligence of the authorities, none of the passengers had been apprehended for a formal checkup at the airport..

The following day, the Health Dept of Hawaii wanted to offer the passengers a formal and thorough check up for the virus. They were able to contact the majority of the passengers with the help of the airline information within the initial 48 hours of contact with the virus. Of the total 300 passengers on board the plane, 215 were successfully reached and treated to prevent the spread of the virus, even if the implications of the diagnosis showed no signs of them being affected.

The remaining 85 passengers were a lot more difficult to track down, as they were not guests at a hotel, who are easier to find. This scenario turned out to be a dangerous one, because of Ebola being an air-borne virus, it spread quickly and stealthily amongst those that got in contact with even one passenger who had been affected by either Ismaile, Tariq or Hussein. This draws attention to the fact that newer and effective methods had not been created to get in contact at a faster pace with the passengers that might be potentially infected with a disease (O'Toole T, Mair M. 2002; Subcommittee on National Security 2002).

The Quarantine Station in Honolulu had been unable to detect the virus positively because it's not only hard to detect it but also because the patient didn't show any signs of having the disease during the duration of the flight. They could not detain the passengers on merely the suspicion of a possible virus (Kenyon TA, Valway SE, Ihle WW, Onorato IM, Castro KG 1996; DeHart RL 2003).

Bioterrorism has been adopted by terrorists on a regular basis because it is convenient and can go undetected in many public places. They use the transportation structures to spread the virus due to the regular and expected visits of public figures and large crowds (Secretary of Health and Human Services 2001).

The 85 that could not be contacted paved the way for a destructible venue. They went, unaware, to the mountains, villages, party venues and spread the disease further till it became a noticeable force and had to be controlled on the large scale (Daws G. 1974).

Chapter 2 - The screening process

While the terrorists have become very proactive in fulfilling their objectives and also very vigilant about the loopholes that exist in the security systems all over the world, it is alarming to note that very little has been done, either legally or institutionally, to protect the American people from deadly bioterrorism attacks. Furthermore, the tendency of the terrorists to attack the most vulnerable places and the most visited locations is also well-known; however, nothing has been done to enhance the security of the high-profile places. The process of screening in Airports today is the same, more or less, as it had been before the 9/11 attacks, as far as the detection of bioterrorist activity is concerned (Traveler Safety and Security Tips: (http://www.flyavp.com/2003/safety.htm;Robert W. Poole, Jr. And George Passantino 2003).

The passengers are asked to arrive at the airport one hour prior to the departure of their flights. Their luggage is thoroughly screened and checked before it is taken on the flight. Furthermore, the luggage then is passed through an X-ray machine, where the luggage is double checked to ensure that nothing illegal is being smuggled, which may jeopardize the safety of the passengers (Traveler Safety and Security Tips: (http://www.flyavp.com/2003/safety.htm;Robert W. Poole, Jr. And George Passantino 2003).

In an effort to stop the terrorists from deploying bioterrorism attacks in America, the airport authorities have started the process of thermal screening to all outbound, as well as inbound passengers. Almost all international airports have more than one automatic thermal scanner, which are considered to be the fastest ones around and are also not invasive for the travelers. Any passenger found to be suffering from fever will be scanned again by a nurse at the airport medical station. Subsequently, those suffering from fever will not be allowed to board the plane, unless they get a clearance from the doctor in the form of a medical certification (Traveler Safety and Security Tips: (http://www.flyavp.com/2003/safety.htm;Robert W. Poole, Jr. And George Passantino 2003).

Many state officials consider this measure to be effective enough to detect the terrorists planning to attempt a bioterrorist attack. However, it is clear that the danger of a deadly disease spreading like forest fire in the urban and sub-urban landscape of America is still a reality and a lot more needs to be done to effectively control bio-terrorist activities. The state officials cannot relax and think they have made this country secure just by introducing a reforms package in the senate and have it passed through the congress (Robert W. Poole, Jr. And George Passantino 2003).

Chapter 3 - What agencies should be involved

The "Department of Health and Human Services" (DHHS) works round the clock in order to ensure that even the remote possibility of a bioterrorist attack is detected at the earliest and effective measures can be henceforth taken. As the Department of Defense notes in their review: "Medical surveillance operate continuously to improve the chances of detecting unusual medical events sooner rather than later. This initial, non-specific detection of activity above an established baseline would trigger other response actions and therefore is important to timely response (Department of Defense. 2000)."

It is heartening to note that since the September 11 attacks, several local communities have been collaborating with "Department of Health and Human Services" (DHHS) in order to ensure that effective measures can be taken to tackle a bio-terrorist attack, should it take place on American soil. The benefits of this collaboration can be timely distribution of information and medicine, which can tremendously assist in decreasing the number of people infected. The department of Defense summarizes the benefits of the cooperation of the local communities and medical surveillance: "Several local communities now are monitoring hospital admissions, 911 calls and unexplained deaths as indicators of an unusual medical event. When baselines are exceeded, city health and emergency management officials will decide if an unusual event has occurred. Medical surveillance can be expanded to actively poll emergency departments, pediatricians, infectious disease doctors, veterinarians and other infection-control practitioners to ascertain the context and possible cause of the non-specific indicator(s). The decision to initiate active investigation should have a low threshold, as these activities have modest cost and impact on the community. Moreover, such timely decisions would avoid delays in active and accurate investigation during actual events that reduce the effectiveness of emergency response in saving lives and reducing suffering (Department of Defense. 2000)."

Lastly, it is important to note that if the medical community notes a probable bioterrorist activity, they then immediately notify the local law enforcement agencies, as well as, the public healthcare professionals along with the relevant information so that effective measures can be taken in an appropriate time.

Health check

Once the medical surveillance indicates a potential bio-terrorist activity on the horizon, the "Department of Health and Human Services" (DHHS) officials immediately follow the conventional procedures to diagnose the disease and its variables. The preliminary samples are not only diagnosed locally, but also, sent to qualified state laboratories for further verification. Once the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Army Medical Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) verifies the disease: "the medical and health community should notify the senior local elected official, emergency manager and local law enforcement. Likewise, any selected infectious disease laboratory results that are reported to the Public Health department also should be reported to the senior local elected official, emergency manager and law enforcement (Department of Defense. 2000)."

Epidemiological analysis

Conducting an epidemiological analysis is critical as it will assist in assessing the data collected and also greatly help in the development of the pertinent procedures necessary for the prevention, control and treatment of the disease. The law enforcement agencies are also given a copy of the collected data so that they too can initiate a criminal investigation. The Department of Defense explains the necessary procedure for a successful epidemiological investigation: "The key to successful epidemiological and criminal investigations of potential BW events is a good working relationship among law enforcement, epidemiologists and the public health department. Developing… [END OF PREVIEW]

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