A biological attack is the deliberate release of germs, organisms or toxins that can make you sick. Some biological threats, like anthrax, can cause severe, even life-threatening illness if germs or harmful substances are inhaled, absorbed through the skin, or ingested. Others, including the smallpox virus or influenza, are contagious.
Biological agents can be spread by dispersal into the air, person-to-person contact, or contact with an infected animal or contaminated food/water.
A biological attack may or may not be immediately obvious. While it is possible to see signs of a biological attack, it is more likely that local health care workers will report a pattern of unusual illness, or there will be a wave of sick people seeking emergency medical attention. You may learn of the danger through an emergency radio or TV broadcast, or some other signal used in your community.
The first evidence of an attack may be when you notice symptoms of the disease caused by exposure to a biological agent. If a biological attack happens, public health officials may not immediately be able to immediately provide information on what to do. Follow these guidelines during a biological threat:
Pay close attention to all official warnings and instructions on how to proceed. The delivery of medical services for a biological event may be handled differently to respond to increased demand.
While antibiotics are often an appropriate treatment for the diseases associated with biological weapons, the specific drug must match the illness to be effective. All antibiotics can cause side effects, including serious reactions. Speak with your health care provider about what makes sense for your family.