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Emergency Guide Biological Threat

Biological agents are bacteria, virus, or toxins that can kill or incapacitate people, livestock, and crops.

Delivery Methods

  • Aerosols - biological agents are dispersed into the air forming a fine mist that may drift for miles. Inhaling the agent may cause disease in humans and animals.
  • Animals - insects and animals such as fleas, mice, flies, mosquitoes, and livestock spread some diseases.
  • Food and water contamination - some pathogenic organisms and toxins may persist in food and water supplies. Most microbes are killed, and toxins deactivated, by cooking food and boiling water for three minutes.
  • Person-to-person - a few infectious agents, such as smallpox, plague, and the Lassa viruses, can spread through human contact.

Precautions for Known or Suspected Exposure

  • Move away from the agent quickly
  • Remove and bag contaminated clothes and items
  • Wash with soap and water
  • Contact public health authorities
  • Monitor local broadcast media for emergency information and instructions
  • Seek medical attention if symptoms appear - public health instructions may include avoiding others or quarantine

Additional information on Biological Threats is available on the following websites:

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security http://www.dhs.gov/

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov/

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