The events surrounding September 11, 2001, and its aftermath have compelled the public health and medical community to face the hitherto unfamiliar reality of bioterrorism. Physicians and public health personnel are frontline soldiers in this new form of warfare. This article provides a general overview of the pathophysiology, clinical presentation, diagnosis, and management of patients infected with the 6 highest priority agents that could potentially be used in bioterrorism. The diseases discussed include anthrax, smallpox, tularemia, plague, botulism, and viral hemorrhagic fevers. Despite the unpredictable nature of bioterrorism, disaster preparedness and knowledge of essential diagnostic and epidemiological principles can contribute substantially toward combating this new threat.
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