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Biologic Weapons, Emergency Medicine

Brigham R. Temple Reviewed 06/2017



  • Defined as naturally occurring organisms or toxins that are purified and prepared for mass dissemination with intent of causing mass morbidity, mortality, and social disruption.

  • Organ...


Signs and Symptoms

  • Health care providers need to be alert to detect illness patterns and diagnostic clues that indicate biologic weapon release.

  • Indications of intentional release of agent inc...



Universal precautions with N-95 mask 

Initial Stabilization/Therapy

  • ABCs

  • 0.9% NS fluid bolus for hypotension

  • Supplemental oxygen for hypoxemia

  • Vasopressors for persistent hypotension

  • R...



Admission Criteria

  • Decision to treat patient as inpatient vs. outpatient will have to be made in context of overall disaster.

  • Toxic or hypoxic patients require admission.

  • Respiratory...

Pearls and Pitfalls

  • Early diagnosis is difficult, and a high index of suspicion is required.

  • Failing to use personal protective equipment to protect self and staff is a pitfall.

  • Suspect biologic weapons...

Additional Reading

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Recognition of illness associated with the intentional release of a biologic agent. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep.  2001;50:893–89...



  • V01.0 Contact with or exposure to cholera

  • V71.82 Observation and evaluation for suspected exposure to anthrax

  • V71.83 Observation and evaluation for suspected exposure to other biological agent

  • ...

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