In the early morning of November 14th, the news media reported an FBI alert for hospitals as potential targets of terrorist attacks with anthrax or explosives. The four US cities mentioned were San Francisco, Houston, Chicago, and Washington DC. It should be emphasized that these threats were reported as unsubstantiated.
In the Washington DC region, the DC Hospital Association (DCHA) organized a regional conference call at 10:30 AM. Approximately 50 persons from DC, Maryland, and Virginia participated, including clinicians, public health officials, hospital executives, infection control practitioners, laboratory personnel, Federal officials, and others. This conference call by the DCHA followed the precedent of the daily conference calls in the DC, Virginia, Maryland region during the actual anthrax attacks of October 2001. A balanced response of enhanced communication and vigilance regarding these unsubstantiated threats was discussed on the DCHA call.
Two recent documents providing relevant anthrax-related information can be found on this website under the “Top Selections” heading in the right-hand column. “Anthrax 2001: Ten Pearls” is a list of specific clinical information compiled from “lessons learned” during the Autumn 2001 anthrax attacks, both from the recent medical literature and from our own experience evaluating patients at the Washington Hospital Center. The second document is our “BE PAST” color poster, which provides a guide to the diagnosis and management of the 6 Category A agents (Botulism, Ebola-VHF, Plague, Anthrax, Smallpox, Tularemia).
MedStar - Washington Hospital Center’s 11th regional (DC, Maryland, Virginia) bioterrorism preparedness forum will take place on November 21, Thursday, from 8:30-10:30. Discussions will center around updates on preparations for anthrax and on the recognition and management of bubonic vs pneumonic plague.
Finally, the November 15th issue of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) (p. 1024-1026) contains updated information on the licensed FDA anthrax vaccine. Updates affect the following three existing statements from the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP):
· Pre-exposure use of the vaccine
· Post-exposure vaccination and antibiotics under an Investigational New Drug (IND) application with the FDA
· Research “…toward developing an improved vaccine for preventing anthrax and new therapeutic strategies, including use of antitoxin (e.g., hyperimmune globulin) for treating anthrax."
Daniel R. Lucey, MD, MPH
Director, Center for Biologic Counterterrorism & Emerging Diseases
Washington Hospital Center
Department of Emergency Medicine