Author(s): Bush LM, Perez MT
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Abstract Ten years ago, just weeks after the September 11 attacks, the United States experienced a deliberate act of bioterrorism. Through use of the postal service, anthrax spores were widely disseminated, including to homes, the Senate, and major newsrooms, resulting in morbidity and mortality and effectively disrupting our way of life and revealing our vulnerability. Even though such attacks had been the subject of much writing and had been planned for, detection of and the appropriate response to an attack with an agent from the so-called "Category 'A' List" had only been considered in theoretical terms. What transpired during the following difficult weeks, including how public health and federal government agencies performed, has been both praised and criticized. An intertwined epidemiologic and criminal investigation of such magnitude was unprecedented in U.S. history. To address the question of whether we as a nation are now better prepared for future threats involving biologic agents, it is important to learn from the lessons of the 2001 anthrax attacks, including the critical role of clinicians in surveillance. As physicians involved in diagnosing anthrax in the index case and alerting authorities, we offer our perspective on these events a decade after their occurrence.
This article was published in Ann Intern Med
and referenced in Journal of Bioterrorism & Biodefense