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Epidemic Response Scenario: Decision Making in a Time of Plague

Tara O'Toole, Thomas V. Inglesby
Date posted:
July 15, 2001
Publication type:

Public Health Rep 2001;116(Suppl 2):92-103

Association of Schools of Public Health
Available through publisher
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Full article as PDF


OBJECTIVE: The objective of this scenario is to illuminate what we believe are three of the most critical and complex issues that might arise in the management of an epidemic after a biological weapons attack on civilian populations: scarcity, containment of contagious disease, and decision-making processes. By scarcity, we mean conditions, even if local or temporary, that limit or constrain the availability of essential, potentially life-saving resources such as health care professionals, antibiotics, vaccines, equipment, and other logistical capabilities. By containment, we mean a spectrum of measures that might be used to limit the spread of contagious disease. These measures include the use of simple surgical masks, isolation of infected patients, mandatory immunization, travel advisories, prohibition of public gatherings, and forced quarantine of entire areas. By decision-making processes, we mean those rapid and complicated decision-making processes that a bioweapons attack would be likely to precipitate, forcing collaboration among a diverse array of individuals, organizations, and professional communities who do not typically interact.

Full article as PDF



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