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Content developed in collaboration with National Organization on Disability's Emergency Preparedness Initiative

 

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Biological Threat

A biological attack is the deliberate release of viruses, bacteria, or other germs used to cause illness or death in people, animals, or plants. Biological agents can be spread through the air, through water, or in food, and may be contagious or non-contagious.

How to Identify a Biological Attack

A biological attack may be immediately obvious, such as the presence of a suspicious substance like anthrax, but most likely it will not be.

  • The first sign of an attack will be people getting sick
  • It will take time to determine exactly what the illness is, how it should be treated, and who is in danger
  • You will probably learn of the danger through an emergency broadcast on television, over the radio, or on the internet

How to Prepare for a Biological Attack

  • See Get A Kit and Make A Plan for general information
  • Check with your doctor to ensure that all required immunizations are up-to-date

How to Respond to a Biological Attack

  • If you notice an unusual or suspicious release of an unknown substance nearby:
    • Get away from it
    • Cover your mouth and nose; face masks, a t-shirt, handkerchief, towel, or layers of fabric that filter the air but still allow breathing can be used.
    • Cover cuts or wounds for additional protection
    • Contact authorities
    • Wash with soap and water
  • If you are exposed or if you have symptoms matching those described by authorities:
    • Cover your mouth and nose to protect yourself and others from further exposure
    • If contagious, avoid others as much as possible
    • Do not self-administer antibiotics
    • Seek medical attention immediately as instructed by authorities
  • If you are potentially exposed:
    • Expect to receive medical evaluation, treatment, or even be quarantined
  • If you have not been exposed
    • Maintain good hygiene
      • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water
      • Do not share food or utensils
      • Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing
    • Monitor for symptoms in yourself and family members

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