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Terrorism and the Use of Biological, Chemical, and Radiological Weapons

Author: Dana Bartlett, BSN, MSN, MA, CSPI
(Click author's name for bio)

CE: 4 hours
Rated 4.7 out of 5.0 based on 8843 reviews

Course Summary

The use of biological and chemical weapons for warfare dates back many centuries. More modern incidents of terrorism using biological, chemical, or radiological weapons have occurred during and after the 20th Century. Given the potential for a terrorist attack using these types of agents, it is important for healthcare teams to have a working knowledge of the agents and weapons of war. There is a potential for serious harm to the public and to healthcare personnel without proper awareness and preparation. Awareness and preparation enable healthcare teams and the public to learn how to detect, respond and manage a terrorist event competently if such an event were to occur. Biological weapons include infectious agents and toxins caused by living organisms. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists three categories of bioterrorism agents of A, B and C that are based on risk to public health and safety. Bioterrorism agents, chemical weapons, and the use of radiation for terrorist acts will be discussed. Additionally, responses to acts of bioterrorism and the need for preparedness are addressed from a local and national standpoint, including the role of healthcare personnel to assist the public to avoid the danger and suffering of a terrorist attack.

Course Format


Course Syllabus

  I.         Introduction
 II.         History of Bioterrorism
III.         Worldwide Bioterrorism or Chemical Attacks
IV.         Biological, Chemical, and Radiological Weapons
 V.         Biological Warfare and Bioterrorism
1.        Attraction of Biological Weapons
2.        Disadvantages of Biological Weapons
VI.         Classification of Biological Weapons
1.        Category A Bioterrorism Agents
2.        Anthrax (Inhalational Anthrax)
3.        Plague (Yersinia pestis)
4.        Botulism
5.        Smallpox
6.        Tularemia
7.        Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers
VII.        Category B Bioterrorism Agents
1.        Brucellosis
2.        Clostridium Perfringens Epsilon Toxin
3.        Glanders
4.        Melioidosis
5.        Psittacosis
6.        Q Fever
7.        Ricin
8.        Typhus Fever
9.        Staphylococcus Aureus Enterotoxin B
10.    Vibrio Cholerae
11.    Viral Encephalitis
VIII.       Category C Bioterrorism Agents
1.        Hantavirus
2.        Nipah Virus
 IX.        Chemical Agents for Terrorism
  X.        Blister Agents
1.        Sulfur Mustard
2.        Blood Agents
 XI.         Choking Agents
1.        Phosgene
2.        Chlorine
 XII.        Nerve Agents
XIII.        Radiological Terrorism
1.        Radiation Basics
XIV.        Riot Control Agents
 XV.        Surveillance: Biological, Chemical, or Radiological Terrorism
1.        Preparation, Recognition and Response for Terrorism
2.        Preparation for a Biological Weapons Attack
XVI.       Case Studies: Anthrax
1.        Case Study 1
2.        Case Study 2
3.        Case Study 3
4.        Case Study 4
5.        Discussion
XVII.      Summary


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