A. Biological agents can
be dispersed by an aerosol spray that must be inhaled. However, these agents can also be used to contaminate food,
water and other products. Attention to basic food hygiene when traveling
abroad is very important.
B. Some chemical agents may be
volatile--evaporating rapidly to form clouds of agent. Others may be persistent. These agents may act
directly on the skin, lungs, eyes, respiratory tract or be absorbed through your
skin and lungs causing injury. Choking and nerve agents damage the
soft tissue in these organs.
C. When properly used, appropriate masks
are effective protection to prevent the inhalation of either biological or chemical agents;
however this assumes an adequate warning. Gas masks alone do not protect against
agents that act through skin absorption. Those who wish to acquire
protective equipment for personal use should contact commercial vendors.
D. There is an incubation period after
exposure to biological agents. It is essential that you seek appropriate care for illnesses acquired
while traveling abroad to assure prompt diagnosis and treatment.
E. One of the biological warfare agents
is the spore-forming bacterium that causes Anthrax, an acute infectious disease. It should be
noted, however, that effective dispersal of the Anthrax bacteria is
* Anthrax is treatable if that
treatment is initiated promptly after exposure. The post-exposure treatment consists of certain antibiotics
administered in combination with the vaccine.
* An anthrax vaccine that confers
protective immunity does exist, but is not readily available to private parties. Efficacy and safety
of use of this vaccine for persons under 18 or over 65 and pregnant women have
not been determined.
* The anthrax vaccine is produced
exclusively by Bioport under contract to the Department of Defense. Virtually all vaccine
produced in the United States is under Defense Department contract primarily for
military use and a small number of other official government uses.
* For additional information,
please consult your health care provider or local health authority.
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