Bioterrorism: Law Enforcement, Public Health & Role of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon in Emergency Preparedness

Divashree Sharma, Ambrish Mishra, Vilas Newaskar, Ankit Khasgiwala
Journal of Maxillofacial and Oral Surgery 2016, 15 (2): 137-43

INTRODUCTION: The contrived and deliberate use of pathogenic strains of micro-organisms such as bacteria, viruses or their toxins to spread life-threatening diseases on a mass scale with the aim to devastate the population of an area is referred to as 'bioterrorism'.

RISK ASSESSMENT: The threat of bioterrorism is higher than ever. It is now a well established fact that the capability to create immense panic and unimaginable fear has allured the terrorists for the despicable use of biological agents for causing terror attacks. Moreover to add to the grievance, this era of biotechnology and nanotechnology has created an easy accessibility to more sophisticated biologic agents apart from the conventional bacteria, viruses and toxins. These biologic weapons can cause large-scale mortality and morbidity in large population and create civil disruption in the shortest possible time.

PREPAREDNESS AND MITIGATION: Fight against bioterrorism is a global concern and necessitates that the issue should be criminalized internationally with the assistance of international co-operation and laws in favor of global public health. National public health agencies must also fortify their ability to be able to detect and respond to such biological attacks with better research and training facilities to health professionals, enhanced surveillance and improved diagnostic facilities by evolving an empowered public health system. Public health education and awareness are imperative; people should be made aware of reporting early to health institutions on arousal of signs and symptoms related to suspicious bioterrorist attack.

CONCLUSION: Effective bioterrorism planning, prevention and response requires cooperation and collaboration between law enforcement and public health; Oral and maxillofacial surgeons can be successfully integrated into the emergency medical response system. With their education, training, skills and amenities in form of equipments they can augment medical and surgical personnel in early identification and subsequent control of a bioterrorist attack.

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