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Bioterrorism: Frequently Asked Questions

How real is the threat of bioterrorism?

We cannot know how likely it is that terrorists will use biological weapons against our general population and we have no evidence that Washington State is a target of bioterrorism. However, we do know that the technology to produce and use dangerous biological agents is potentially available to people who might be willing to use them. Because the consequences of such an attack could be severe, we need to be prepared to respond as quickly and effectively as possible.

What is being done about the threat of bioterrorism?

The best defense against bioterrorism is a strong public health system. In response to the threat of bioterrorism, Congress authorized the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to coordinate efforts to upgrade national public health capability to counter bioterrorism. Following this mandate, the CDC established the Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Program in 1999. Under this program, Oregon is developing the capacity to detect, communicate and respond to potential bioterrorism events.

What can I do to protect my family and myself?

Many of the same steps you would take to prepare yourself and your family for a natural disaster such as a flood or major storm would also be helpful in preparing for an incident of bioterrorism. For instance, making plans for getting in touch with family members after a disaster and preparing emergency kits for your home, work, and your children's school are simple things you can do. You should recognize, however, that some preparedness items or actions that could prove valuable in some emergency situations might not be useful in the special case of bioterrorism. Bioterrorism is different from terrorist attacks that involve explosives or chemicals.

You will find a helpful list of personal preparedness resources on our Emergency Preparedness and Response home page.

Where can I get more information?