Clinical managing methods for bioterrorism-related infections

Clinical managing methods for potential bioterrorism-related conditions | Courtesy of lactprogram.edu
The New England Journal of Medicine recently released a review discussing how health professionals clinically manage infections and pathogens that can be used as bioweapons.

The review is based on historical incidents and information about the simplicity of contagiousness, dissemination, public health impact, mortality rates, need for special preparedness and ability to engender panic.

Below are details concerning anthrax. The review includes smallpox, pneumonic plague, botulism and tularemia. Because these illnesses can also be contracted naturally, health professionals are looking for odd patterns or unknown causes.

Anthrax can be cutaneous, injectional, gastrointestinal or inhalational, which is the most dangerous. In the case of cutaneous anthrax, the most common form, the illness causes a pruritic papule to develop at the inoculation site. Eventually the papule becomes a painless, coal-black eschar. Other symptoms include edema, lymphadenopathy and fever.

Gastrointestinal anthrax symptoms includes oropharyngeal and lower gastrointestinal discomfort. Patients develop cervical lymphadenopathy, esophageal or oral ulcers, fever, nausea, bloody diahrrea, nausea, abdominal pain and distention and dysphagia.

Injectional anthrax causes skin lesions that may need surgical removal. Meningitis and shock are common symptoms. This form of the illness has a 34 percent mortality rate.

Inhalational anthrax begins with flu symptoms: fever, respiratory trouble and shock. This form has a 90 percent fatality rate.

In the case of anthrax contractions, health professionals are to give special care to pregnant women and children.

Further details about other potential bioterrorist illnesses can be found online in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Organizations in this story

New England Journal of Medicine 860 Winter St Waltham, MA 02451

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