Effectiveness of Medical Defense Interventions Against Predicted Battlefield Levels of Bacillus Anthracis
SCIENCE APPLICATIONS INTERNATIONAL CORPJOPPA MD
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B. anthracis, the causative organism for anthrax, continues to be a biological warfare threat to U.S. forces. Exposure through inhalation is deadly unless the cause of infection is identified and treated before serious respiratory symptoms present. The objective of this study was to determine the levels of B. anthracis likely to be found on the battlefield and the potential impact of B. anthracis attacks on unit effectiveness. The levels of B. anthracis are critically dependent on the weapons, form of agent dissemination, weather conditions, and time-of-day of an attack. In assessing the effects on a military operational unit following a B. anthracis attack, various defensive measures were considered including the wearing of protective equipment, especially the protective mask, and the use of medical interventions such as vaccination and antibiotic therapy. Modeling results predicted that the use of vaccine could ensure survivability and preserve unit effectiveness at levels in excess of 90 percent. The study also provides insights into potential operational limitations imposed on a commander whose troops depend solely on antibiotic therapy and protective equipment for survival. Further, the findings illuminate some of the implications for survivability and unit effectiveness in the absence of the capability to either rapidly detect the presence of B. anthracis in the atmosphere or to easily diagnose anthrax casualties prior to the onset of symptoms.
- Chemical, Biological and Radiological Warfare