After several deaths and a handful of individuals left ill after being infected with anthrax, what plans does the U. S. have to secure the safety of its citizens? Anthrax, the infectious disease caused by spore-forming Bacillus anthracis, has appeared in the mail of politicians and private citizens. One of those private citizens, a hospital worker from New York City, died from inhalation anthrax. This common disease among cattle is also used as method of terror. With such horrifying possibilities on the horizon, what is the United States doing to prepare for a large-scale biological attack?
Because of its use as a biological weapon, Americans face an attack from anywhere, by an enemy that may never be seen. This disease can be left almost anywhere, only to be picked up by some unsuspecting person that may die without ever knowing what happened. This is the key benefit of a biological weapon, the ability to kill many, but for the attacker to remain unnoticed.
Not long after the Sept. 11 attacks in New York City and Washington, D. C., there came a new threat, the terror of disease. Homeland Security Adviser, Tom Ridge, has stated that the anthrax cases are unrelated to Muslim extremists. The latest assault of terror comes from a completely different breed of terrorist, one likened to the Uni-Bomber. At America’s darkest hour its citizens face life-threatening disease from almost anywhere. These sorts of terrorist attacks are considered to be individuals with grudges or vendettas against people for unknown reasons.
Tom Ridge has assured the nation that there is enough Cipro, the vaccine for anthrax, for all citizens. For an effective treatment of anthrax, doctors will prescribe antibiotics immediately. Lately, there has been a rush to hospitals all over the East Coast for symptoms of the flu. Anthrax symptoms resemble flu-like illness, but the attitude of the people is “It’s better to be safe than sorry.”
Not to set off alarms, but what American’s need to be aware of is the possibility of something much worse. Phillip Russell, a former director of the Army’s Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, has stated that biological terror may be greater than first believed. “What needs to be answered is whether Russia has safeguarded its small pox stocks,” said Russell.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, biological weapons and nuclear weapons, small enough to fit into a brief case, went unguarded and could have disappeared to the “highest bidder.” This can only mean that anthrax is the last thing Americans have to worry about.
According to the
U .S. Department of Health and Human Services:
Ciprofloxacin is available to all in stockpiles in precaution to biological warfare
The FDA recommends that cipro should not be administrated unless absolutely needed
Tetracyclines and penicillin are also available to combat Anthrax