The economic impact of a bioterrorist attack: are prevention and postattack intervention programs justifiable?

Emerg Infect Dis. 1997 Apr-Jun;3(2):83-94. doi: 10.3201/eid0302.970201.


Understanding and quantifying the impact of a bioterrorist attack are essential in developing public health preparedness for such an attack. We constructed a model that compares the impact of three classic agents of biologic warfare (Bacillus anthracis, Brucella melitensis, and Francisella tularensis) when released as aerosols in the suburb of a major city. The model shows that the economic impact of a bioterrorist attack can range from an estimated $477.7 million per 100,000 persons exposed (brucellosis scenario) to $26.2 billion per 100,000 persons exposed (anthrax scenario). Rapid implementation of a postattack prophylaxis program is the single most important means of reducing these losses. By using an insurance analogy, our model provides economic justification for preparedness measures.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anthrax / economics*
  • Anthrax / prevention & control
  • Biological Warfare*
  • Brucella melitensis*
  • Brucellosis / economics*
  • Brucellosis / prevention & control
  • Health Care Costs
  • Hospitalization / economics
  • Humans
  • Tularemia / economics*
  • Tularemia / prevention & control