BIOTERRORISM -- THE MEDICAL AND

PUBLIC HEALTH RESPONSE

WESTERN REGIONAL CONFERENCE

 
 

The Western Regional Conference on BioTerrorism: The Medical and Public Health Response will be held from February 3 through 5 at the La Jolla Marriott Hotel in San Diego, California.  Panelists are available for interviews prior to and during the conference.

 

January 12, 2000                                       Conference Contact: (858) 534-3940                                                                                       Media Contact: Eileen Callahan                                                                                                 (619) 543-6163 ecallahan@ucsd.edu                                                                                 

            The threat of terrorist events such as the release of the nerve gas sarin in a Tokyo subway in 1995 has led to a heightened awareness of the possibility of a terrorist biological attack in the U.S.

             “BioTerrorism: The Medical and Public Health Response” is a western regional conference for medical care providers, emergency medical services, public officials and community members scheduled for February 3 through 5 in San Diego, California. 

            “Now is the time to devise a plan for responding to a bioterrorist attack with the collaboration of medical care providers and emergency medical services, and to heighten public awareness to the threat of bioterrorism,” said Harold J. Simon, M.D., Ph.D., FACP, Chief of International Health and Cross Cultural Medicine, and Professor of Family and Preventive Medicine at University of California, San Diego (UCSD).

            The conference will focus on preparations underway and those that still need to be made in the Western United States, Western Canada and Northern Mexico, bringing representatives from local, state and national agencies together to discuss plans to deal with an attack.   This conference will help to facilitate coordination and cooperation between agencies and organizations that have very different missions and philosophies, according to conference sponsors.

            “As a military city located on the world’s most traversed international border, it is critical that we have in place a comprehensive strategy to defend against and respond to a bioterrorist assault on our region,” said San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts.                                                            

            Represented agencies include the Departments of Defense and Health and Human Services; Federal Bureau of Investigation; FEMA; the Healthcare Association of San Diego and Imperial Counties; University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine; Center for Counterterrorism Technology and Analysis; Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC); San Diego Police Department; San Diego County Board of Supervisors; the State of California; and The Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Studies.         

            In the event of mass casualties, local and state medical care facilities would potentially be overwhelmed.  Conference sessions will include the nature of the bioterrorism threat, and address international, federal, state, and local agencies’ preparedness.  Panelists will discuss how a large metropolitan city with an international border, major military installations and a large population of tourists should prepare for detection of a threat, examine options and make decisions during time of crisis, mobilize effective responses, and undertake containment measures.

            “To remain unprepared is to invite disaster,” said D.A. Henderson, M.D., M.P.H, Director, The Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Defense Studies.  Henderson, who led the worldwide eradication of smallpox, is now focusing his efforts on mobilizing health workers and the government against bioterrorism.             

            The conference will feature experts on three main topics: 1) education of medical care providers and emergency medical services about early diagnosis, the epidemiology, and appropriate responses to the most likely agents; 2) understanding institutional and appropriate response roles, identifying resources and limitations; and 3) public education on bioterrorism facts versus myths.            

            A panel discussion on a scenario of the release of a smallpox virus will cover medical community needs; public health monitoring and surveillance; treatment and containment concerns; pharmaceutical, vaccine, and equipment needs, and quarantine, decontamination and ongoing medical care.

            Another panel discussion on “Operational Considerations: Responding to the Threat” will cover inter-organizational coordination efforts, preparation and plans for strengthening a response plan in the event of a bioterrorism attack.

            The final panel session will discuss informing the media and the public about protection, accessible resources, bioterrorism preparedness and how response objectives can be met.

            The conference is sponsored by the County of San Diego, University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine, and The Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Studies in association with Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC).

            The UCSD School of Medicine, designates this educational activity for a maximum of 16 CME hours in category 1 for credits towards the AMA Physician’s Recognition Award.  Each physician should claim only those hours of credit that he/she actually spent in the educational activity.  For registered nurses under the BRN guidelines, this course is accredited for 16 hours of nursing credit.  For further information or to register for the conference contact the University of California, San Diego Continuing Medical Education, at (858) 534-3940.

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