Bioterrorism and Public Health

Problems/Case Studies

"Biological Terrorism: The Anthrax Scare of 2001", Kathleen A. Cornely, Providence College. State University of New York at Buffalo’s National Center for Case Study Teaching.
In the weeks following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, anthrax-laced envelopes were mailed to individuals in government and the news media by an as-yet-unidentified bioterrorist. Thousands were treated for exposure, and five people were killed. At the same time, scientists solved the last remaining pieces of the anthrax “puzzle,” and the mechanism of infection of the anthrax toxin is now well understood. Developed for a second-semester biochemistry course, this case presents students with a wealth of biochemical, microbiological, and immunological material to analyze while exploring important societal issues related to national preparedness against bioterrorist attacks, funding for biodefense research, and the use and misuse of antibiotic therapy.
This case is appropriate for undergraduate biochemistry, microbiology, and public health courses.

"Anthrax Attack! A Case on Bioterrorism" Kari A. Mergenhagen, University at Buffalo. State University of New York at Buffalo’s National Center for Case Study Teaching.
This case study presents a fictitious bio-terrorist plan to release anthrax in the United States. Students are assigned character roles and, through research, role-playing, and teamwork, develop a plan to minimize or avert the attack.
The case is appropriate for courses designed for health professionals, general biology courses, and social science courses.

Articles in "Taking Sides"

"Should Public Health Be Given Sweeping Powers Over Individual Liberty in a Bioterrorist Threat?" Levine, Carol. Taking Sides: Bioethical Issues, eleventh edition.
Issue Summary:

CNN Videos

Topic:  "Natural  Anthrax":  Biology 6th Ed. CNN Ed 2002 (2:20)
A rancher in southwest Texas, part of the “Anthrax triangle,” is interviewed. Anthrax is a common animal pathogen in this region, where wet springs are followed by hot dry summers. Animals ingest anthrax spores then sicken and die quickly, bleeding from all orifices. The most recent case of anthrax in this region was cutaneous anthrax. It occurred in a man who skinned an animal known to have died of the disease. It is unlikely that anyone could use animals with anthrax to create a bioterror weapon.

Topic:  "Anthrax bioterror":  Biology 6th Ed. CNN Ed 2002 (3:04)
The process by which anthrax is weaponized is described. The goal is to produce spores that enter the alveoli and move to lymph nodes in the chest where they germinate. The three ways in which humans become infected are discussed and the symptoms and treatment of inhalation anthrax are described. Inhalation anthrax can be highly deadly; an accident at a Soviet factory killed 65 people. Many lived some distance from the factory. A vaccine exists which is 93 percent effective after 18 months of treatments.