Diagnosing Bioterrorism: Applying New Technologies

Chills, fever, headache, muscle pain, and appetite loss are classic flu symptoms; they are also markers of the biological warfare agents tularemia, Staphylococcus enterotoxin B, and Q-fever. At the moment, the diagnostic methods that would distinguish, within a timely manner, the cause of these symptoms do not exist. But researchers are working towards that end, as well as trying to find the appropriate treatments. Advanced diagnostic methods, ranging from genetic analyses to breath analysis, a

Harvey Black
Jul 22, 2001
Chills, fever, headache, muscle pain, and appetite loss are classic flu symptoms; they are also markers of the biological warfare agents tularemia, Staphylococcus enterotoxin B, and Q-fever. At the moment, the diagnostic methods that would distinguish, within a timely manner, the cause of these symptoms do not exist. But researchers are working towards that end, as well as trying to find the appropriate treatments. Advanced diagnostic methods, ranging from genetic analyses to breath analysis, are among the approaches being examined.

Stephen Morse, director of the center for public health preparedness at the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, says progress is being made in developing new, fast techniques that would allow a diagnosis well before conventional signs and symptoms manifest themselves. "You will not be able to give a city of eight million people antibiotics for weeks if you think they've been exposed to anthrax," says Morse. "You'd...

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