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, 52 (39), 938-40

Recognition of Illness Associated With Exposure to Chemical agents--United States, 2003

  • PMID: 14523372

Recognition of Illness Associated With Exposure to Chemical agents--United States, 2003

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep.

Abstract

Since September 11, 2001, concern has increased about potential terrorist attacks involving the use of chemical agents. In addition, recent cases involving intentional or inadvertent contamination of food with chemicals have highlighted the need for health-care providers and public health officials to be alert for patients in their communities who have signs and symptoms consistent with chemical exposures. For example, in February 2003, a Michigan supermarket worker was charged with intentionally contaminating 200 lbs. of meat with a nicotine-containing insecticide. Although intentional release of chemical agents might be an overt event (i.e., one whose nature reveals itself), such as release of a nerve agent in a subway or a large explosion of a chemical container, a chemical release might instead be a covert event (i.e., an unrecognized release in which the presence of ill persons might be the first sign of an exposure), such as deliberate contamination of food, water, or a consumer product. To increase the likelihood that health-care providers will recognize a chemical-release-related illness and that public health authorities will implement the appropriate emergency response and public health actions, CDC identified examples of chemical-induced illness and created appropriate guidance for health-care providers and public health personnel. This report summarizes the epidemiologic clues and clinical signs or patterns of illness that might suggest covert release of a chemical agent. CDC is working to develop national surveillance capabilities for detecting chemical-release-related illnesses.

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