Agents of Biological and Chemical Terrorism

  • Michael T. MeyerEmail author
  • Philip C. Spinella
  • Ted Cieslak


Children have myriad unique needs compared to adults during all types of disasters. Many of these unique needs emanate from the fundamental differences between adults and children in terms of anatomy and physiology. In the event of a biological or chemical terrorism event, the difficulties which arise from these differences are complicated by a lack of weight-based medication dosing guidelines, a lack of appropriate sized supplies, and a lack of evidence-based practices in children. The risk of biological, chemical, or radiological weapon use has increased as terrorists become more familiar with these agents and their potential for harm. Biological agents are invisible to the eye, odorless, potentially lethal in particulate form; natural organisms are readily available, and can be disguised as natural disasters to spread fear and disease. Chemical agents rapidly attack the body’s critical physiological centers, disabling or killing victims. Potential biochemical agents of terrorism include; Bacillus anthracis (anthrax), Yersinia pestis (plague), tularemia, small pox, botulinum toxin, nerve agents and cyanide. Healthcare providers need to be familiar with clinical presentation and life-saving treatment modalities, as well as the precautions necessary to prevent contamination and transmission to healthcare workers and to proactively plan for the needs of children during a disaster.


Biological weapons Chemical weapons Nerve agents Small pox Category A agents 



The opinions and assertions contained herein are the private views of the authors and are not to be construed as official or as necessarily reflecting the views of the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or their component services, agencies, and institutions.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael T. Meyer
    • 1
    Email author
  • Philip C. Spinella
    • 2
  • Ted Cieslak
    • 3
  1. 1.Division of Pediatric Critical Care MedicineMedical College of Wisconsin, Children’s Hospital of WisconsinMilwaukeeUSA
  2. 2.Division of Critical Care, Critical Care Translation Research ProgramWashington University in St. Louis Medical SchoolSt. LouisUSA
  3. 3.Clinical Services DivisionUS Army Medical Command, Army Surgeon GeneralFort Sam HoustonUSA

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