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עמוד בית
Sat, 20.07.24

Focus

IMAJ | volume

Journal 11, November 2004
pages: 658-660

Quarantine after an International Biological Weapons Attack: Medical and Public Health Requirements for Containment

    Summary

    The world now faces the dreadful possibility of biological weapons attacks by terrorists. Healthcare systems would have to cope with such emergencies should all preemptive measures fail. Information gained from the Global Mercury exercise and the SARS outbreak has shown that containing an outbreak at the start is more effective than reacting to it once it has spread and that containment should be treated both nationally and internationally. On the national level this entails developing rapid and effective methods to detect and identify infected cases, and implementing isolation and control measures to lower the risk of further transmission of the disease while assuring the safety of medical teams and laboratory workers. Strategic contingency plans should incorporate well-defined procedures for hospitalization and isolation of patients, providing regional backup of medical personnel and equipment and maintaining close cooperation between the various bodies in the healthcare system. Quarantine is an effective containment measure, especially if voluntarily imposed. Modern communication systems can help by sending professional teams timely instructions and providing the public with information to reduce panic and stress during quarantine procedures. Informing the public poses a dilemma: finding a balance between giving advance warning of an imminent epidemic outbreak and ascertaining the likelihood of its occurrence. Containment of international bioterrorist attacks depends entirely on close international cooperation to implement national and international strategic contingency plans with free exchange of information and recognition of procedures.

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