General information on chemical-biological agents (CBA)

 

 

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 difficult.

*       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.
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*       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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