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Emergency Medicine Clinics of North America
Emergency physicians in every location in the world, in developed and developing countries alike, will undoubtedly be confronted with the possibility of an emerging infectious disease in their career. A subset of these physicians may be faced with a patient who has potentially been exposed to biological weapons. Of the myriad infectious disease emergencies an emergency physician contends with, these 2 possibilities are the gravest and most impactful. In such scenarios, the emergency department (ED) clinician can be the key in recognizing or containing an outbreak. The challenge inherent with emerging infectious diseases presenting in the ED is that such cases can be camouflaged, lurking amongst innumerable infectious disease clinical syndromes, from common colds to viral rashes. This article provides guidance to emergency physicians as to how to approach this challenging problem as well as familiarizing readers with specific microbial threats of high consequence.