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Biological weapons preparedness: the role of physicians

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The real risk posed by biological weapons was demonstrated with the distribution of anthrax spores via the USA postal service in 2001. This review outlines the central roles of physicians in optimizing biopreparedness in Australia, including maintaining awareness of the risk, promptly recognizing an event, notifying appropriate authorities upon suspicion of an event, and instituting appropriate management. Management aspects covered include appropriate diagnostic tests, infection control procedures, and empirical therapy of agents considered possible biological weapons. The critical role of phys­icians as public health advocates working to prevent the use of biological weapons is also outlined. (Intern Med J 2003; 33: 242−253)

Keywords: anthrax; bioterrorism; botulinum toxin; plague; smallpox; tularaemia

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: May 1, 2003

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