The VDH emergency preparedness and response programs involve state, regional and local emergency response partners working together to plan for potential emergencies and to respond to bioterrorism, infectious disease outbreaks and other public health emergencies.
Defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “A bioterrorism attack is the deliberate release of viruses, bacteria, or other germs (agents) used to cause illness or death in people, animals, or plants. These agents are typically found in nature, but it is possible that they could be changed to increase their ability to cause disease, make them resistant to current medicines, or to increase their ability to be spread into the environment. Biological agents can be spread through the air, through water, or in food. Terrorists may use biological agents because they can be extremely difficult to detect and do not cause illness for several hours to several days. Some bioterrorism agents, like the smallpox virus, can be spread from person to person and some, like anthrax, can not.”
Virginia Department of Health- http://www.vdh.state.va.us/EPR/index.asp
Department of Homeland Security – Bioterrorism Information and Preparedness
Department of Homeland Security – National Response Plan
American Red Cross – Terrorism Preparedness
The Food and Drug Administration – Drug Preparedness and Response to Bioterrorism (information on antibiotics and dosage)
Environmental Protection Agency – Water Security
National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health Medline Plus – Biodefense and Bioterrorism
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in order to contain the spread of a contagious illness, public health authorities rely on many strategies. Two of these strategies are isolation and quarantine. Both are common practices in public health, and both aim to control exposure to infected or potentially infected persons. Both may be undertaken voluntarily or compelled by public health authorities. The two strategies differ in that isolation applies to persons who are known to have an illness, and quarantine applies to those who have been exposed to an illness but who may or may not become ill.
According to the National Hurricane Center, history teaches that a lack of hurricane awareness and preparation are common threads among all major hurricane disasters. By knowing your vulnerability and what actions you should take, you can reduce the effects of a hurricane disaster. The goal of Hurricane Preparedness is to inform the public about the hurricane hazards and provide knowledge which can be used to take ACTION. Information can be used to save lives at work, home, while on the road, or on the water.
The Cities Readiness Initiative (CRI) is a pilot program to aid cities in increasing their capacity to deliver medicines and medical supplies during a large-scale public health emergency such as a bioterrorism attack or a nuclear accident. Twenty cities and the District of Columbia have been chosen to participate in this pilot program and were chosen based on their population and geographic location. This planned pilot program is a part of our ongoing work to ensure readiness; it is not a response to a specific threat. The pilot program aims to ensure that plans from all levels of government (federal, state and local) will be unified to ensure a consistent, effective and timely response to catastrophic events.
The role of epidemiology is to prepare for and rapidly respond to the deliberate release of, or natural exposure to harmful viruses, bacteria and other germs (agents). This is accomplished by routinely detecting, assessing, and controlling the spread of unwanted pathogens. The Chesapeake Health department, its neighboring health districts and the state health department use disease and syndrome surveillance, disease investigation and disease trend analysis to rapidly identify threats to public health. Chesapeake citizens also have a role in public health epidemiology by recognizing and reporting potential hazards to the health department. You can contact the communicable disease program to report a potential public health hazard by calling (757) 382-8681 and/or the main number at (757) 382-8600
Below is a list of websites to enhance your knowledge of public health epidemiology, communicable diseases and biological and chemical agents.
Virginia and Chesapeake Resources