Bio-terrorism -- or the deliberate attack by an individual or group using a biological agent such as a bacteria, viruses, or toxins -- is a threat the Utah County Health Department prepares to address.
The CDC has listed the following agents as Category A agents meaning they pose the greatest potential public health threat: anthrax, botulism, plague, smallpox, tularemia and viral hemorrhagic fevers.
While Utah is not considered a prime target for most terrorist activities, some venues would qualify as "soft-targets" ... meaning large groups of people gather making for easy dispersal of an agent. Some of these soft targets might include college sporting events, large business or civic conferences, or even university campuses.
A biological attack may not be immediately obvious. Patterns of unusual illnesses or a surge of sick people seeking medical treatment may be the first sign of an attack. If you believe there has been a suspicious release of biological substances:
- Quickly get away from the area.
- Cover your mouth and nose with layers of t-shirts or towel.
- Wash with soap and water.
- Contact local law enforcement or health authorities.
The most important thing to remember is to follow instructions from local officals. The Utah County Health Department would utilize mass media, Reverse 9-1-1, and other communications methods to contact individuals believed to be effected, and to initate appropraite containment and treatment proceedures.
For more information or ideas to address a possible incident, please see:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.bt.cdc.gov/bioterrorism/