UPMC researchers release study on bioterrorism-related conditions

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center researchers within the Center for Health Security recently reviewed clinical aspects of five pathogens that have the potential to be used as biological weapons.

In a report published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, the researchers looked into pathogens that cause smallpox, pneumonic plague, anthrax, tularemia and botulism. These conditions are categorized as high priority in terms of biological defense and preparedness, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Viral hemorrhagic fevers such as Marburg and Ebola are also included in this category. 

"The anthrax attacks in the U.S. occurred nearly 14 years ago, so they have fallen off doctors' radar screens, Dr. Amesh Adalja, one of the researchers, said. "Many clinicians have never seen or treated a case of anthrax or smallpox. Physicians need to be reminded of the possibility for these diseases to occur as a result of a deliberate action and to collaborate with public health officials to take steps toward preparedness."

The article, titled "Clinical Management of Potential Bioterrorism-Related Conditions," makes it a point to state that these conditions do occur in nature, but health care personnel must be aware of unusual infection patterns that may indicate a biological attack. 

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University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

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