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Title:

Anthrax 2001: Observations on the Medical and Public Health Response

Authors:
Elin Gursky, Thomas V. Inglesby, Tara O’Toole
Date posted:
June 15, 2003
Publication type:
Article
Publication:

Biosecur Bioterror 2003;1(2):97-110

Publisher:
Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
Availability:
Available on publisher's website
See also:

Full article as PDF

Introduction:

This article describes aspects of the medical and public health response to the 2001 anthrax attacks based on interviews with individuals who were directly involved in the response. It has been more than 18 months since B. anthracis spores were discovered in letters sent through the U.S. postal system. The specific purpose and perpetrator(s) of these attacks remain unknown. A total of 22 people developed anthrax as a result of the mailings, 11 suffered from the inhalational form of the disease, and 5 of these people died. Thousands of workers—including health care, public health, environmental, and law enforcement professionals—participated in the response to the attacks. Thousands more were directly affected, including individuals working in facilities contaminated by the attacks and their families. The immediate and continuing medical and public health response to the anthrax attacks of 2001 represents a singular episode in the history of public health.

After-action assessments of the response to the anthrax attacks could offer invaluable opportunities to better understand and remedy the systemic vulnerabilities revealed by America’s only experience with an anthrax attack. Yet there still has been no comprehensive published analysis of the response to these events. In December 2001, the Center for Strategic International Studies convened a meeting, which included high-level government officials directly involved in managing the crisis, to discuss the response and review lessons learned. The report describing this meeting has been withheld from public distribution by the Department of Defense, which supported the meeting, on the grounds that the document contains sensitive information.

Full article as PDF

 

 

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