A New Model of Bioterrorism Risk

Atlas, M. R. (2005). Biodefense research: an emerging conundrum. Current Opinion in Biotechnology, 16,239–242.

Though Atlas gives an incisive account of the dilemma of biodefense research, his assessment is based on earlier studies carried out by other researchers. Biodefense research has been through challenges for a long time now. The paper discusses the implications of biodefense research in the face of bioterrorism. It raises serious concerns about biodefense research and its potential for counter productivity.

While biodefense research continues unabated, the potential threats posed by various research remains a reality. Safety and ethical concerns have been the perennial concerns of biodefense research and have resulted in a dilemma – what Atlas calls dual-use dilemma.

There are fears that legitimate research into biological systems could be used for bioterrorism and biowarfare. Bioterrorism will continue to exist as long as biological research continues and therefore preventing malevolent use of legitimate research will be very hard. However, the solution must be sought to avert any possible bioterror. The paper calls for concerted efforts to balance between safety and ethical issues with biodefense research. Risks posed by antibiotic resistance (antibiotic resistance as the hallmark of biosecurity and bioterrorism.

Holmes, B. J. (2008). Communicating about emerging infectious disease: The importance of research. Health, Risk & Society Journal, 10(4), 349-360.

Communicating about emerging infectious disease is critical to combating their effects. It is considered that communication about emerging infectious disease is in itself a significant control measure. Research into emerging infectious disease communication has not been carried out on an extensive scale in the past. Bev J. Holmes posits that emerging disease needs broader coordination between the relevant stakeholders in order to contain the disease. Emerging infectious diseases is not a problem of the medical fraternity alone but includes other stakeholders as well i.e., the government authorities and the public.

Emerging infectious disease represent the greatest biohazard risk. Communications planning for health promotion should be participatory. The paper’s emphasis on communicating emerging infectious disease research agrees with the Nicogossian’s comments on Homeland Security’s recognition of training the community in about preparedness against all hazards. In this case, communication is the key to coordinating between various stakeholders.

Nicogossian, A., Metscher, K., Zimmerman, T., Hanfling, D. & Wise, R. (2007). Community training in bioterror response. Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, 4(3), 1-16.

Nicogosssian identified the need for community training in bioterror response. As a measure to protect the public from biohazards, training must be carried out. The paper critically looks at the implications of public training so as to increase preparedness. Training for preparedness regarding all hazards should take into account the uniqueness of every community. The community’s unique needs should be considered so as to train them effectively on how to respond to biological hazards. In developing and implementing a disaster-training curriculum, Nicogossian propose consideration of local demographics and geographical distribution.

Training the community on preparedness against all hazards should be all-inclusive – including individual citizens, the small business community, and whole communities. For these stakeholders’ responsible involvement, each one must be able to access, process, and understand the necessary information. It is notable however that there should be communicative coherence between the activities of the medical and public health teams and the public so that such information is made available on time.

Radosavljevic, V. & Belojevic, G. (2009). A new model of bioterrorism risk assessment. Biosecurity and Bioterrorism Journal, 7(4), 443-451.

Risk assessment is important in combating bioterrorism. Vladan, acknowledges this fact and as such they establishment what they purport to be simpler model of bioterrorism risk assessment scoring. Vladan’s expose follows many studies and commentaries reviewing various ways of countering biohazards. Vladan then saw the need to develop a simple risk assessment model that encompasses all possible elements in bioterrorism. The model is designed for evaluating vulnerabilities, potential consequences, and the effectiveness of mitigation strategies of an attack. It puts into perspective increasing chances of finding perpetrators of bioterrorism thereby averting eventual fatalities.

However, they also acknowledge the difficulty in anticipating, preparing for or educating on bioterrorist activities. Identifying perpetrators of biohazards is often a complex process. By comparing the various components and parameters of biological attack including perpetrators, agents, means and media of delivery, and the targets of biohazards, Radosavljevic and Belojevic proposed a model to hasten the process of preventing biological attack.

Rambhia, K. J. & Gronvall, G. K. (2009). Antibiotic resistance. Biosecurity and Bioterrorism Journal, 7(4), 443-451.

In this research, antibiotic resistance is identified as the most important factor to biosecurity and bioterrorism. The study outlines in detail how antibiotic resistance occurs and the pathways of bacterial resistance. Improper use and unnecessary prescriptions are the main ways through which biological resistance occurs. In addition, resistance to agricultural antibiotics contributes to biohazards indirectly to human life. Mutation and genetic transfer are some of the pathways through which bacterial resistance to antibiotics occur. The resistant properties of bacteria provide an avenue for bioterrorism and public health risks.

The study acknowledges that although bacterial resistance to antibiotics is inevitable, it prescribes the need for reduction in using agricultural antibiotics to lessen the bacterial resistance to antibiotics. Politic action on bacterial resistance should be taken to avert possible future use of resistant microbes for bioterrorism. Generally, bacterial resistance to antibiotics occurs naturally but deliberate introduction of resistance is also common. The paper posits the importance of developing more antibiotics to continue fighting infections.