Joel Anthony Nations, MD, MBA, is a Navy pulmonary and critical care physician stationed at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. He is also a graduate of the Naval War College with a specialization in irregular warfare. Dr. Nations has assembled a team of experts to discuss the relationship between biological warfare and epidemics that mirror it in terms of their impact and treatment on Wednesday at 10:45 am in room 294 of the convention center. They will present Measles, Ebola and Anthrax Oh My! Are You and Your Hospital Ready? to discuss biological warfare alongside other emerging, preventable diseases.
Here, Dr. Nations shares four things you should know about the subject before attending the session:
1. Biological warfare would uniquely impact the work of chest physicians.
Several of the high-priority biological agents include organisms that can present as respiratory illness and/or critical illness, including anthrax, smallpox, tularemia, and the viral hemorrhagic fevers. Therefore, chest physicians would be involved in the initial diagnosis and eventual care of patients affected by biological warfare.
2. Preventive measures for biological warfare are currently a priority for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Surveillance systems, such as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Biowatch Program, are actively monitoring the United States for biologic agents in order to assist with the early detection and treatment of them. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Strategic National Stockpile is maintained for public health emergencies, including agents of biological warfare.
3. Outbreaks of diseases such as anthrax, tularemia, plague, or other potentially weaponizable agents may be natural or due to human action. However, our immediate actions taken to address these outbreaks would be similar regardless of cause or motive.
Historical lessons have been learned from intentional use of biological agents in the United States, including Salmonella in the 1980s and anthrax in 2001. Naturally occurring outbreaks of SARS and Ebola provide a framework to understand the risk of intentional use of biologic agents.
4. In the unlikely event of a biological agent outbreak, chest physicians should feel empowered to address it after participating in the session.
The session will ensure that attendees understand the current biowarfare threat, the surveillance and support systems that exist to address, the similarities and differences between naturally occurring disease outbreaks and intentional use of biologic agents, and the likely agents of biowarfare. Presentation, transmission, and treatment options will be shared and discussed during the hour.
All conference registrants are invited to participate.
“The session will ensure that attendees understand the current biowarfare threat, the surveillance and support systems that exist to address, the similarities and differences between naturally occurring disease outbreaks and intentional use of biologic agents, and the likely agents of biowarfare.”
Joel Anthony Nations, MD, MBA