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Background Information

In recent months, local public health leaders in more than a dozen communities have had to deal with claims that anthrax or other bioterrorist (BT) agents had been released in their communities. None of these threats were determined to be valid.

In responding to these threatened instances of BT, there was great diversity in the procedures used by local public health officials, particularly for communications and notification of other public health officials and security agencies during the early stages of the response. This suggests that it may be useful to document and disseminate a standard communications protocol for use by local public health officials during the initial response to apparent instances of BT.

The following schema is meant for use by local public health leaders who identify or suspect a bioterrorist incident in their community. It should be incorporated into a local communications plan for bioterrorism. For simplicity, the term "Local Health Officer" is used in this schema. However, depending on the structure, size, and complexity of the local public health agency, this person might be the Administrator, Environmental Health Director, Chief Epidemiologist, or some other professional in an officially designated leadership role.

Explication of the steps in this schema are keyed to the numbered paragraphs following the diagram. Note: For purposes of clarity, only communications by local and state health officials are diagrammed. This notification algorithm will be linked to and coordinated with other federal guidance.

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