Date: March 28, 2006
Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Abstract: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is planning to place antibiotics in 5,000 homes in the St. Louis area in a first-of-its kind test to learn how people would handle drugs given them to prepare for a bioterrorism attack.
Starting next month, some 20,000 people will be screened to see which households receive "MedKits" that contain antibiotics for each member of the family.
Households will be randomly selected from three groups: public health responders such as firefighters; workers at a single, as yet unidentified corporation; and recipients of publicly funded health care at clinics. The drugs would be distributed at no cost.
The pilot project is aimed at finding the best way to distribute drugs in case of emergencies and whether people would store the drugs properly and save them for when they are needed.
"This is an important project that not only helps us prepare in this area, but also helps inform national policy," said Bruce Clements, director of the Center for Emergency Response and Terrorism in the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Service.
The state will play a significant role in the federally sponsored project. The study area has not been pinned down but will include St. Louis, St. Louis County, probably St. Charles County and perhaps more of the metropolitan area, Clements said. Illinois communities will not be involved.
Clements said St. Louis was chosen because of its national reputation in bioterrorism preparedness gained from pioneering research at both Washington University and St. Louis University.
The CDC published the broad outlines for its Home MedKit Evaluation Study on Feb. 23 in the Federal Register. No further public announcement has been made.
Existence of the project was first disclosed this week by Government Security News, a New York-based magazine.
CDC spokesman Von Roebuck described
the study as "still a work in progress" and
promised more details soon.
He added, "The whole idea is that if we ever had an emergency situation - say it involved smallpox - we would be able, whatever the location, to augment what states could do."
The antibiotics in question were chosen for their capacity to prevent infections in the event of exposure to dangerous bacteria. They will be distributed in see-through bags along with instructions on how to use them.
The MedKits will contain either Doxycycline or Ciprofloxacin, better known as Cipro. Doxycycline is often mentioned as a treatment for anthrax, among other bacteria. Cipro also could be used to ward off infections from a variety of intentionally introduced agents, including plague, smallpox, botulism and tularemia.
Family members will go through medical screening before being chosen. The antibiotics in question have side effects and must be used carefully. For instance, Doxycycline is not to be given children because, among other things, it might discolor their teeth.
The antibiotics would later be checked to see whether families are storing them properly and keeping them for bioterrorism emergencies. In addition, the study is designed to "explore attitudes, perceptions and other social and psychological factors" related to the drugs, according to the Federal Register.
Since 9/11 and the anthrax scare that followed, the government has been exploring ways to distribute drugs.
Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said in a speech last year that those might include storing caches of pharmaceuticals around the country for use when needed or distributing them via first-responders or perhaps the Postal Service.
He also raised the possibility of putting them in homes, noting that the medications then would be closest to those who need them. But he added that the government needs to better understand whether such a system would work.
Clements observed that the nation has conducted no studies, and therefore has no data, on the possible pitfalls of placing drugs in homes. "All we have is assumptions. We know that people can be irresponsible with a variety of different drugs. But we don't know whether they would be irresponsible with these drugs. This is cutting-edge research, and we're excited in Missouri to be hosting it," he said (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2006).
Title: Bioterror Drill To Test
Distribution Of Drugs
Date: September 7, 2007
Abstract: White cardboard boxes small enough to fit in a medicine cabinet will be delivered Sept. 23 to the mailboxes and doorsteps of more than 23,000 Boston households.
The packages will be empty, but the purpose of their delivery will be deadly serious.
The parcels will be tangible evidence of how effectively and swiftly antibiotics can be delivered if terrorists attack with anthrax. Boston will be the third US city to participate in such an exercise, pairing mail carriers, police officers, and public-health specialists.
The fake pill boxes will be delivered to every residence in two ZIP codes: 02132, in West Roxbury, and 02118, which covers most of the South End and a sliver of Roxbury.
The exercise will yield clues about how medication could be dispensed during other health emergencies.
"We feel that it is a way to get an initial push of life-saving medications out to residents on a very fast basis and allaying, hopefully, any sense of panic among the public," said John Jacob, acting director of the city's Public Health Preparedness Office.
Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the arrival of rogue letters containing anthrax a month later, big cities such as Boston have been engaged in campaigns to prepare for assaults involving biological agents such as anthrax, plague, and tularemia. Antibiotics work stunningly well against those bacteria, but they have to be administered within 48 hours of exposure.
Typically, doctors would be loathe to even consider blanketing a city with drugs without first assessing patients individually. That would change, though, in the midst of a bioterror attack.
"Normally, we prefer to have a health professional do it, but when we're dealing with the prospect that there could be thousands or tens of thousands of deaths and speed could mitigate that, for me and many of my colleagues, the ethical calculus is pretty clear," said Dr. William Raub, science adviser to Mike Leavitt, US secretary of Health and Human Services.
In the event of a biological attack, cities would establish drug-dispensing centers in schools and community centers. In Boston, the city's Public Health Commission would open 30. But because it would take time to get those centers running, health authorities became intrigued by the possibility of using mail carriers to deliver an initial supply of antibiotics. The drug of choice against anthrax would be Doxycycline.
The federal government is underwriting the cost of the exercises, which cost "well under $100,000" each, Raub said.
"The idea is you can hit a lot of households fast," said James Apa, communications manager for Public Health - Seattle & King County, where the first drill was held in Washington state in November. "It actually went quicker than expected; it ran ahead of schedule."
In Boston, more than 30 pairs of US Postal Service carriers and Boston police officers will venture onto the streets of the two ZIP codes at 7 a.m., Sept. 23.
Those two areas were selected because of their diversity and differences. In West Roxbury, the residents tend to be older, and mail is often ferried by vehicles. In the other ZIP code, carriers travel on foot, and, Jacob said, "the Sound End is just a really great, widely varied demographic."
Authorities decided to conduct the experiment on a Sunday, in part because they did not want to disrupt mail delivery on regular service days. They also figured that if terrorists struck, regular mail delivery would stop and people would stay indoors.
Health agencies quickly identified mail carriers as their best option for emergency deliveries, and the Postal Service agreed.
"Getting these medications out to people as fast as possible will be of utmost importance," said Bob Cannon, spokesman for the Postal Service in Boston. "The letter carriers know the streets, they know where the mailboxes are, they know how to walk these routes."
The mail service did have one major concern: the safety of their carriers if they're dropping off medication that could be widely coveted during an emergency. That's why a police officer is being paired with each letter carrier.
The boxes are meant to simulate containers that would carry 20 pills of Doxycycline. Once the drill is completed, recipients of the boxes can recycle them or, Jacob said, save them as a keepsake (Boston.com, 2007).
Title: Unknowing Residents To Take
Part In Terror Drill
Date: September 7, 2007
Source: WCVB TV
Abstract: About 23,000 Boston residents are weeks away from taking part in a bioterror drill, and many probably don't even know it.
Health officials plan to have mail carriers deliver tiny white cardboard boxes to the doorsteps and mailboxes of thousands of residents in the city's West Roxbury and South End neighborhoods on Sunday, Sept. 23.
"Anytime you are talking about a release of anthrax in the city, you are talking about pretty much a worst case scenario where you need to get medications to people as quickly as possible," said John Jacob of the Boston Public Health Commission.
The empty boxes will be used to simulate how quickly antibiotics could be delivered to residents in the event of a bioterror attack.
"No one knows the streets, knows the deliveries, knows where the houses are and the sequence they are set up in better than letter carriers do," said Bob Cannon of the U.S. Postal Service.
In the event of a real emergency when the antibiotics are highly coveted, the mail carriers will have a police escort.
"There is no emergency whatsoever. This is just a test, and this is a way for us to figure out if this particular delivery option is a good fit for Boston," Jacob said.
If it were a real emergency, each box would hold 20 pills (WCVB TV, 2007).
Title: U.S. Postal Service To Be In Charge Of Drug
Delivery In The Event Of A Bioattack
Date: December 21, 2009
Source: Bio Prep Watch
Abstract: Following an executive order released Wednesday, the U.S. Postal Service will be put in charge of delivering drugs and other medical aid to Americans in the event of a large-scale biological weapon attack.
President Obama’s order states that the postal service will be in charge of dispensing “medical countermeasures” for biological weapons in the event of an attack because of its ability to deliver to U.S. citizens rapidly.
Federal agencies are required to develop a response plan within 180 days including possible law enforcement escorts for postal service workers under the order, which cites anthrax as a primary threat consideration. The order would see local law enforcement supplemented by local federal law enforcement officers.
The Secretaries of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services, acting in coordination with the Secretary of Defense, must develop a concept for operations and establish requirements for dispensing medical countermeasures to an affected population through a federal rapid response program.
The order, President Obama says, does not supersede the authorities of other agencies and seeks to “mitigate illness and prevent death; sustain critical infrastructure; and complement and supplement state, local, territorial, and tribal government medical countermeasure distribution capacity.”
The plan is to be developed by the Secretaries of Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, and Defense, and the Attorney General working in coordination with the U.S. Postal Service in consultation with state and local public health, emergency management and law enforcement officials (Bio Prep Watch, 2009).Title: In Bio Attack, US Post Office Could Distribute Aid
Date: December 30, 2009
Abstract: The US Post Office could play a key role in distributing medical aid in the event of a biological attack, according to an executive order released by the White House.
The order signed by President Barack Obama directs government agencies, local law enforcement and the US Post Office to work on a model for distribution of medical countermeasures in the wake of a biological attack.
"This policy would seek to: (1) mitigate illness and prevent death; (2) sustain critical infrastructure; and (3) complement and supplement State, local, territorial, and tribal government medical countermeasure distribution capacity," the order said.
"The US Postal Service has the capacity for rapid residential delivery of medical countermeasures for self administration across all communities in the United States," the order added.
The US Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano were instructed to work with the post office to develop a "dispensing model for US cities to respond to a large-scale biological attack, with anthrax as the primary threat consideration."
The order calls for the model to be drawn up within 180 days, but gives no details as to whether the idea of using the US postal system to assist Americans in the wake of a biological attack is a new one.
The United States
has sought to bolster its capacity to respond to biological attacks
since 2001, when anthrax-laced letters mailed to people across the
United States led to five deaths (AFP, 2009).
Title: Obama Spurs Plans To Deliver Drugs By Mail
After Bio Attack
Date: December 31, 2009
Abstract: President Barack Obama, giving a push to a proposal that has been in the works for years, yesterday ordered federal agencies to develop a plan for the US Postal Service (USPS) to deliver medical countermeasures to households in the wake of a biological attack.
In an executive order, Obama said the federal government "shall pursue a national U.S. Postal Service medical countermeasures dispensing model to respond to a large-scale biological attack."
The president ordered the departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Homeland Security (DHS) to work with the USPS to develop a countermeasures delivery plan within 6 months, focused on anthrax as the primary threat. An attacker who sent anthrax spores by mail was blamed for killing five people and sickening 17 more in the fall of 2001.
The White House order also calls on federal agencies to plan for the use of federal law enforcement officers, if needed, to help local law officers escort mail carriers delivering the medical supplies, most likely antibiotics.
Obama further ordered HHS, DHS, and the Department of Defense to develop a plan for helping state and local governments distribute medical countermeasures if necessary. The agencies are also ordered to plan for providing countermeasures to essential federal personnel so the government could keep functioning after an attack.
Assigning the USPS to deliver antibiotics after a bioterrorist attack is not a new idea. "The Postal Service has been working on this project for years," USPS spokeswoman Sue Brennan commented to CIDRAP News today.
Brennan noted that the agency conducted three proof-of-concept drills in 2006 and 2007—one each in Seattle, Philadelphia, and Boston. In those exercises, a total of 119 mail carriers delivered dummy boxes of antibiotics and explanatory fliers to 114,000 households, she said.
Another exercise is scheduled to take place in the Minneapolis–St. Paul area sometime in 2010, with mail carriers delivering packages to 205,000 homes, about 25% of the metro area. That drill will have a new dimension, she said, in that the mail carriers will be screened for special measures to protect themselves from anthrax. Plans for the exercise were first announced in October 2008.
"We have solicited volunteer letter carriers who had to be fit tested for masks and had to undergo physicals to ensure they could take [the antibiotic] doxycycline," Brennan said. "They and their families will be given antibiotics for the test period. They obviously won't need to take them since it's a test."
The first announcement of a proposal to have the USPS deliver antibiotics after a bioterrorist attack came in February 2004. USPS officials said then that the idea was to use mail carriers to deliver antibiotics from the Strategic National Stockpile as a way to supplement local public health efforts in response to a major incident.
yesterday came less than a week after a man with alleged ties to al-Quaida
tried to bring down an airliner bound for Detroit by setting off an explosive
mixture in his clothing. As an Associated Press report noted, since that failed
attack, the president has sought to assure the public that his administration
is striving to protect the country from terrorists (CIDRAP, 2009).
Title: Drive-Through Clinics Could Stem Effects Of Bioattack
Date: January 15, 2010
Source: Bio Prep Watch
Abstract: A study by physicians at Stanford Hospital & Clinics has concluded that, in the event of a pandemic or biological attack, patients’ own cars can be effectively utilized as a drive-through emergency department.
The study, published Jan. 13 in the online Annals of Emergency Medicine, noted that the drive-through method could prevent the spread of infectious diseases from patient to patient and from patient to caregiver.
“The most important message is that a drive-through medical clinic is not only a feasible model, but may be a preferred type of alternative care center,” Eric A. Weiss, first author of the study and associate professor of emergency medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine, told HealthNewsDigest.com. “It can expedite and facilitate seeing large numbers of patients while mitigating the spread of infectious diseases by providing a social distancing mechanism.
“And it not only can be used during a pandemic, but also would be an excellent strategy for bioterrorism, or for other emerging infectious disease events.”
A full-scale exercise was conducted by Weiss and three of his colleagues last September, with results showing that moderately ill patients could be both evaluated and treated in the drive-through scenario in an average of 26 minutes.
The exercises also revealed that the diagnoses and treatments given during the drive-through matched those of real-life patients who visited the Stanford emergency room (Bio Prep Watch, 2010).
Title: Postal Workers May Become Part Of Plan To
Fight Anthrax Attacks
Date: May 24, 2010
Source: Bio Prep Watch
Abstract: Mail carriers in Minnesota may soon play a part in the war on terror, according to a news report by kstp.com.
The plan, which will be funded by a $6 million grant through the federal government for anthrax emergency preparedness, will coordinate efforts of the state’s mail carriers, lab technicians and law enforcement officers.
The state’s Department of Health will be responsible for testing material for anthrax. Another part of the plan, according to the news report, could involve the distribution of antibiotic pill packs that would be supplied by the federal government.
Those pill packs would be sent to the state’s Office of Emergency Preparedness within 12 hours of possible exposure and then distributed by mail carriers with state trooper escorts, according to the report.
Pam Donate is a Minnesota mail carrier who was one of 400 volunteers to be trained to deliver medications via mail during an anthrax attack.
“Letter carriers are very attached to the people they serve in the neighborhoods,” Donate told kstp.com.
The report noted that approximately 50 state troopers would escort postal workers, offering protection, specifically in densely populated areas around the Twin Cities.
“We don’t know when something will happen, if it will happen or what it’ll be, but the last thing we want to do is get flat-footed,” Minnesota State Patrol Captain Matt Langer told kstp.com (Bio Prep Watch, 2010).
Title: U.S. Postal Service Tests Bioterror
Date: August 20, 2010
Source: Bio Prep Watch
Abstract: Postal employees in Lansing, Michigan, conducted decontamination drills on August 18, simulating their response to a bioterror attack using anthrax.
Anthrax, caused by inhaling, digesting or breathing the bacteria or spores of Bacillus anthracis, killed five people in a 2001 mail attack in Washington, D.C. Among the dead were two postal workers. Since then, the U.S. Postal Service has taken better measures to protect its employees, including holding such drills, according to the Lansing State Journal.
The exercise, the first since 2007, was held at the Lansing post office and processing center, and included training in the use of an inflatable decontamination station and hazardous materials suits.
The Lansing police and fire departments and members of the Ingham County Health Department also played an active role in the drills, the Lansing State Journal reports. Marcus Cheatum, the assistant deputy health officer at the health department, told the Lansing State Journal that the training helps officials find and fix problems in their responses and teaches the different organizations to work together.
"Before 9/11 and before we started doing these drills, we never partnered with the post office or the Fire Department or the sheriff on things like this, and now we’re doing stuff jointly all the time," Cheatum told the Lansing State Journal.
"It just gives us all an opportunity to get together, look at our processes … and make sure everything works in an orderly fashion," Postal Service spokeswoman Sabrina Todd told the Lansing State Journal (Bio Prep Watch, 2010).
Title: Postal Service Preparing Bioterror Response
Date: November 17, 2010
Source: Bio Prep Watch
Abstract: The United States Postal Service has teamed up with state and local health departments to prepare for a mass distribution system by testing delivery of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention medication in case of anthrax attack.
In December 2009, President Barack Obama signed an executive order for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the USPS to create a national dispensing model within 180 days that would allow U.S. cities to respond to a large anthrax attack, Emergencymgmt.com reports.
The program, known as the postal plan, uses letter carriers around the country to deliver medical countermeasures and information about how to take the medication. Since medication must be administered within 48 hours of infection, regular mail delivery would be halted and replaced with this important package.
The postal plan is currently being tested in the St. Paul/Minneapolis area within the 551 and 554 zip codes. Before the executive order, similar exercises had been performed in Philadelphia, Seattle and Boston to great success.
“The process went well, and it only took about six to nine hours for them to cover their route and make sure all those folks – the 20, 40 and 50 thousand – received their mock antibiotics in a timely fashion,” John Koerner, chief of the CBRN branch of the HHS, said, according to Emergencymgmt.com. “The proof of concept showed that it can work.”
While most residents during an anthrax attack would receive antibiotics in a mass dispensing site, the postal plan might have to be enacted in high density zip codes to take pressure off the distribution sites.
According to the Military Vaccine
Agency, an untreated inhalation of anthrax would lead to a higher than 99 percent
death rate. After the antibiotics treatment is started for anthrax, it must be
continued for approximately 60 days (Bio Prep Watch, 2010).
Title: Georgia Tests Drive Through Anthrax Vaccine Dispensing
Date: January 6, 2011
Source: Bio Prep Watch
Abstract: The Columbia County Emergency and Operations Division and other health workers in Columbia County, Georgia, plan to test a method of dispensing life-saving vaccines and other medicines that allows people to stay within their vehicles.
The exercise is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. on January 22 at Groveton High School, and will test the medical workers to see if they are capable of vaccinating 900 people against anthrax, according to NewsTimes.Augusta.com.
The event will utilize large tents that were bought last year with Georgia Department of Health grant money. Drive through stations will be set up at the school on William Few Parkway.
County Health Department Nurse Manager Linda Graves sees a scenario where motorists and their passengers arrive at one station to collect and then fill out paperwork to be dropped off at another station, before driving to a final station to receive the inoculation or other critical medicine.
"The purpose is to get people in and out very quickly, like a drive-through at a restaurant," Graves said, NewsTimes.Augusta.com reports. "We would hope to get them in and out in a few minutes."
With 20 volunteers, Graves expects that around 1,00 people could pass through the stations in a single day.
"Although this exercise focuses on anthrax, these same procedures may be used for numerous types of public health emergencies, including, but not limited to, mass vaccinations during flu pandemics," Emergency and Operations Director Pam Tucker said, according to NewsTimes.Augusta.com (Bio Prep Watch, 2011).
Title: Five Metro [U.S. Postal] Areas To Receive
Grants To Fight Anthrax
Date: August 3, 2011
Source: Bio Prep Watch
Abstract: Five metropolitan areas that have demonstrated the ability to deliver anthrax antibiotics through the National Postal Model will receive a total of $400,000 in grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The grants fund planning and exercises incorporating U.S. Postal Service workers into community plans to deliver medication after an anthrax bioterrorism attack, the News Eagle reports.
The Boston Public Health Commission, the Philadelphia Department of Health, the Louisville/Jefferson County Metropolitan Board in Kentucky and the San Diego Health and Human Services Agency will each receive $50,000 grants for initial planning and exercises. The Minneapolis Department of Health, will receive a $200,000 grant to conduct a full-scale exercise simulating an anthrax attack in the metropolitan area.
If a full-scale anthrax attack were to occur, everyone potentially exposed to anthrax would need to receive an initial supply of antibiotics within 48 hours. Under the NPM, volunteers from the USPS would pick up antibiotic packages at an established location and, protected by law enforcement officers, would deliver the antibiotics to homes in predetermined ZIP codes.
“The fatality rate for people whose lungs are infected with anthrax is extremely high if they do not receive antibiotic treatment, which means the quicker health professionals can get antibiotics into people’s hands, the quicker we can protect health and save lives,” Dr. Nicole Lurie, the assistant secretary for Preparedness and Response, said, according to the News Eagle. “The postal model offers an additional tool for local health departments to begin treating people potentially exposed to anthrax.”
This method would augment existing dispensing plans that ask residents and visitors to go to special medication dispensing sites (Bio Prep Watch, 2011).
Title: San Diego To Train Postal Works On
Bioterror Antibiotic Deliveries
Date: August 24, 2011
Source: Bio Prep Watch
Abstract: Postal workers in San Diego will soon be trained to
deliver emergency antibiotics to all 3.2 million county residents in the event
of a bioterrorist attack.
Jack Walsh, a coordinator for the county's Counterbioterrorism and Preparedness Task Force, said that during a full-scale anthrax attack, antibiotics would need to be delivered to residents within 48 hours from the federal Strategic National Stockpile, KPBS said. During an anthrax attack, the county would get doxycycline and ciprofloxacin antibiotics.
“Signs and symptoms for anthrax can show as early as 48 hours," Walsh said, according to KPBS. "So the survival rate for anthrax once signs and symptoms have popped up is not very good. If we can get meds delivered, then we can save 98 percent of the people. (Medication) would come to the county’s warehouse where the Postal Service would come and pick it up and take it to their delivery units, load it up into their trucks and deliver it to everybody’s address."
Each of the postal workers who volunteers for the training would have a security or police escort and be equipped with gloves and a mask. They would be given a supply of emergency medications for their families in advance.
San Diego is one of five U.S. cities that has been selected for a grant to pay for initial distribution training and exercises.
"There’s a low probability of a bioterror attack, but a high likelihood of mass fatalities if we’re not prepared," Walsh said, according to KPBS.
In 2001, anthrax-laced letters that were sent to media companies and congressional offices killed five people (Bio Prep Watch).
Title: Iowa Postal Employees Practice Anthrax
Date: September 1, 2011
Source: Bio Prep Watch
Abstract: Postal employees, first responders and local emergency officials in Waterloo, Iowa, recently conducted a biological attack drill that simulated an anthrax mail attack similar to the ones carried out in 2001.
During the scenario, authorities sealed off the post office and a group of student volunteers simulated potential anthrax victims. The exercise provided officials with new insights as to how to operate during an emergency, as well as new tools to use during a response, according to WCFCourier.com.
"It's as real as we can make it and still get it done," Sgt. Aaron McClelland of the Waterloo Police Department said, WCFCourier.com reports.
Though a real event would be most likely to unfold over a series of days, the recent exercise was compressed into a matter of hours.
Firefighters donned hazmat suits in order to rescue those inside the post office while members of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service began a more thorough investigation. Officials from the Iowa State Patrol, Black Hawk County Health Department and the Iowa National Guard also took part.
"There was a number of different agencies involved. We had federal, state and county and city resources," Jewell said, according to WCFCourier.com.The National Guard provided a unique communications system for the event that tied together the radios from the different participants (Bio Prep Watch, 2011).
Title: Kansas Holds Bioattack Drill
Date: January 11, 2012
Source: Bio Prep Watch
Abstract: Johnson County, Kansas, recently held a drill designed to test its ability to dispense medical countermeasures in the event of biological emergency.
The public health emergency preparedness plan is in place to organize the handing out of medicines if there is ever an outbreak of anthrax, plague or tularemia, whether it is a naturally occurring event or an intentional release, according to Fox4KC.com.
Public health officials said that the most difficult role the public has to play is filling out the proper form. The rest of the procedure takes only 45 seconds.
“If they go online, fill out their form and bring it in, it’ll decrease the time it’s going to take for them to go through the whole dispensing process and speed it up,” Nancy Tausz of Johnson County Public Health said, Fox4KC.com reports.
Johnson County Health said that it is prepared to dispense countermeasures to the entire population of the county within 48 hours.
During an event, the head of a household can pick up prophylactic medications for their entire family at open dispensing sites or neighborhood dispensing centers.Additional sites may be set up depending on the nature of the emergency and the target population. Only asymptomatic persons are to receive the medication. Those showing symptoms are to be taken to treatment centers (Bio Prep Watch, 2012).
Title: U.S. Testing New Rapid Response Vaccine-Delivery Platform
Date: February 16, 2012
Source: Bio Prep Watch
Abstract: Health officials in the United States are currently testing a new vaccine-delivery platform developed by the Halifax, Nova Scotia-based Immunovaccine, Inc.
The DepoVax vaccine-delivery platform is intended for use in rapid response to a bioterrorist event involving either civilians or the military, according to TheChroncicleHerald.ca.
“Our platform seems to enhance the effectiveness of some vaccines that could be used to counter bioterrorism events,” Marc Mansour, Immunovaccine’s chief science officer, said, TheChronicleHerald.ca reports. “The challenge for military or civil authorities is to have a particular vaccine take effect as quickly as possible.”
Mansour said that DepoVax has the ability to generate an immune response rapidly.
The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases plans to include the vaccine-delivery platform in additional testing slated to begin this spring. DepoVax will be one of several vaccines and vaccine boosters to be included in the round of non-human primate tests.
Immunovaccine recently announced that DepoVax could serve to advance the development of next generation vaccines that could be used against the deadliest of biological agents, including anthrax and Marburg virus.
is consistent with Immunovaccine’s strategy for leveraging DepoVax to enhance
the immunogenicity of even the best vaccine antigen candidates in as little as
a single dose,” John Trizzino, the chief executive officer at Immunovaccine,
said, TheChronicleHerald.ca reports (Bio Prep Watch, 2012).
Title: Louisville Postal Carrier To Carry Antibiotics
In The Event Of Bioattack
Date: March 21, 2012
Source: Bio Prep Watch
Abstract: More than 300 postal carriers in Louisville, Kentucky, have volunteered to carry antibiotics to nearby residents in the case of an attack using an airborne biological agent.
Louisville and Minneapolis-St. Paul were chosen to take the lead in a demonstration project program aimed at using postal workers to deliver supplies of the antibiotic doxycycline to residential addresses within 48 hours of an emergency, according to Courier-Journal.com.
Edward Gabriel, the principal deputy assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said that the Louisville project could serve as example to other cities seeking to be better prepared for a biological attack.
“Other cities across the country will be watching closely to learn how to apply this model in their own communities,” Gabriel said, Courier-Journal.com reports.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, the U.S. Postal Service and HHS are expected to officially announce the program soon.
“Creating a safer city and a healthier city are two top priorities, and this agreement puts us at the cutting edge of national efforts to protect our citizens,” Fischer said, Courier-Journal.com reports. “Louisville will become the national model in that our plan includes door-to-door delivery to citizens in both urban and rural ZIP codes.”
Louisville was chosen
because of its experience as a testing site for other disaster drills. So far,
nearly 70 percent of available couriers have volunteered for the program (Bio
Prep Watch, 2012).
Title: FDA To Discuss Use Of Household Anthrax
Date: April 2, 2012
Source: Bio Prep Watch
Abstract: A joint U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory committee is scheduled to discuss the feasibility of storing antibiotic medikits in homes in case terrorists release anthrax spores in major U.S. cities.
Anthrax is classified as a category A agent by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Category A agents pose the greatest threat to public health based on their potential for use in a bioterror attack. Anthrax is highly lethal, but illness and death can be prevented if a person is treated immediately with antibiotics, according to MedPageToday.com.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research Projects Authority recently asked the FDA to advise it on what studies would be needed for approval of an anthrax medikit.
In response, the FDA’s Anti-Infective Drugs Advisory Committee and the Non-Prescription Drugs Advisory Committees scheduled a meeting to discuss the potential benefits and risks associated with the widespread usage of medikits.
The anthrax medkit would contain a 10 day supply of the antibiotic doxycycline. To obtain a kit, an individual would need a prescription from a healthcare provider and would then be able to purchase one at a pharmacy. Postal workers and their households have already been granted access for personal home medikits.
Current government plans in case of an anthrax release focus on the distribution of antibiotics from a central supply location within several days of the notification of an attack. Several metropolitan areas could potentially speed the distribution process to 48 hours with the help of a recent federal readiness initiative, MedPageToday.com reports.
The availability of medikits would reduce congestion in the distribution process and allow people to initiate treatment much sooner. It is feared, however, that having a ready supply of antibiotics may lead to people taking the medication for other infections. Such use could promote antibacterial resistance.
A recent report issued by the Institute of Medicine recommended halting the pursuit of an FDA-approved medikit. The IOM concluded that the risk of inappropriate use was too high and that prepositioning antibacterial drugs in homes could increase the probability that terrorists would pursue the use of a resistant strain of anthrax in an attack (Bio Prep Watch, 2012).
Title: FDA Raises Concerns Over Anthrax Medikits
Date: April 3, 2012
Source: Bio Prep Watch
Abstract: Federal regulators at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently voiced concerns about making anthrax-antidote kits available to 114 million households in the United States.
At a meeting of the FDA and a panel of scientists and academics, regulators said that distributing the medikits could lead to misuse of the medications inside and may serve to stir public fears of a biological attack, according to Bloomberg.
“People may infer an anthrax attack is imminent,” Thomas Moore, the chairman of an FDA advisory committee, said,Bloomberg reports.
The medikits would contain a 10 day supply of doxycycline, an antibiotic that was hoarded after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Some experts have called for the kits to be available for all Americans to store in their homes.
The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said that it would like to see 10 million of the kits distributed to first responders and their families before expanding a program to include the rest of the population.
BARDA would need FDA backing before a rollout date for the kits could be set. It would also need to partner with a pharmaceutical company to guide the medikit through the regulatory process. Currently, companies that make versions of doxycycline include Pfizer and Impax Laboratories.
“The public just looks at the system as there you go again crying wolf,” Diane Cappelletty, a pharmacy professor at the University of Toledo College of Pharmacy, said, Bloomberg reports.
Some advisors warned that consumers could misuse the medication inside the kits, which could lead to an increase in antibiotic resistance. A 2007 test of similar kits in St. Louis showed some evidence of the potential for misuse. One person took doxycycline when an emergency was declared during a snowstorm. Others took the medication for minor ailments.
“I can’t help but be reminded of the decades old fallout shelter craze,” Marcus Reidenberg, a professor of public health at Weill Cornell Medical College, said, Bloomberg reports. “It’s assuming that everyone in the U.S. knows we have doxycycline and no one in any organization that might want to attack the U.S. doesn’t” (Bio Prep Watch, 2012).Title: Minnesota Mail Carrier To Test Anthrax Antibiotic Delivery Program
Date: March 22, 2012
Source: Bio Prep Watch
Abstract: Mail carriers in St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota, will deliver empty pill bottles to approximately 35,000 homes on May 6 to test a program that would deliver antibiotics in the event of an anthrax attack.
U.S. Postal Service carriers will make the Sunday deliveries to four zip codes, one in the Minneapolis suburbs, one in Minneapolis and two in St. Paul. Operation Medicine Delivery will see how fast postal teams can deliver medicine to homes in case of an emergency, CIDRAP News reports.
“People will get an empty bottle, similar to what would be used in the real thing,” Peter Nowacki, a Minneapolis USPS spokesman, said, according to CIDRAP News. “There’ll be an information sheet explaining what it’s all about, that it’s just a test to see how well it works. It’ll have links and phone numbers for more information.”
The Twin Cities area is one of at least five large cities in the U.S. planning federally funded programs to use the USPS to respond to bioterrorist attacks. The other areas include Seattle, Philadelphia, Boston and Louisville, Kentucky. While Boston, Philadelphia and Seattle have run limited exercises, the Minnesota test will use a fully developed team of trained volunteers.
“This is the first metro area in the country to recruit a full complement of postal volunteers for this program, and set up a fully developed postal delivery system,” the Minnesota Department of Health, said, according to CIDRAP News.
If a real emergency
were to occur, postal delivery would not be used for all residents of the Twin
Cities, but as a way to relieve pressure from the medication centers in densely
populated parts of the area (Bio
Prep Watch, 2012).
Title: DHS Testifies On Pre-Event Anthrax Vaccine
Date: April 18, 2012
Source: Bio Prep Watch
Abstract: Representing the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Health Affairs, Principal Deputy Assistant James Polk spoke on Tuesday about a cooperative program between DHS and the CDC to develop an anthrax vaccine distribution network.
Polk said that the OHA has been working together with the CDC’s Strategic National Stockpile since June to develop a program to provide expiring anthrax vaccines to federal, state and local agencies for voluntary pre-event vaccination of first responders.
“It is important to note that the federal government is not establishing a federal vaccination program for state and local responders, but rather providing an existing resource to states and localities who will implement the vaccination program within their jurisdictions,” Polk said.
Before the program can be implemented, the DHS and the CDC will put together an 18 month pilot program with two federal and two local agencies. According to Polk, the pilot program is necessary to both help gauge demand for the vaccine, and to ensure that the program’s methodology supports responsible vaccine use.
The statements came in response to House Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications Chairman Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.), who commented that millions of doses of anthrax vaccine get thrown away each year as they approach expiration.
“It would seem
entirely reasonable to make these supplies available to first responders prior
to their expiration,” Bilirakis said (Bio
Prep Watch, 2012).