Experts call for biopreparedness

Leading Israeli physicians Joshua Shemer and Shmuel C. Shapira, in their “Terror and Medicine” textbook, have asked health service providers worldwide to seek out knowledge about biological and chemical warfare agents to be prepared for potential incidents.

“Until recently, the use of chemical and biological warfare by countries, including nations ruled by dictators and totalitarians, was prohibited,” Shemer and Shapira said. “The threat, however, prevails. The latest events in the USA have taught us that chemical and biological warfare, as well as radiation weapons, could be used quite easily by fanatic terrorist groups.”

The physicians said that, while countries are typically aware of how to manage mass casualties, health care providers need to be aware of the potential incidents that can occur, including biological, radiation and chemical warfare.

“Clinicians and healthcare providers should recognize the harm caused by the variety of non-conventional weapons as a potential epidemiology, and the relevant authorities should prepare for the prevention and early detection of the effects of the terrorist attacks,” Shemer and Shapira said.

Shemer and Shapira propose that these clinicians seek out knowledge of these conventional and non-conventional weapons.

“Knowledge may decrease the degree of fear, and mass destruction weapons should be recognized by all members of the medical community and by the public,” Shemer and Shapira said. “Ongoing national and regional disease surveillance is very important in peacetime as well as during war. This surveillance will enable health authorities and epidemiologists to obtain the earliest warning of suspicious case clusters and outbreaks, to detect an eruption of disease or toxicity, and to assess the necessity of special measures such as prevention, isolation, immunization and curative therapy, as well as providing relevant information to the public.”