On March 12-13, 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in collaboration with the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) hosted the Clinical Utilization Plan for Anthrax Countermeasures in a Mass Event Setting Workshop which brought together more than 90 anthrax experts from around the world. As a step in federal preparedness efforts, this workshop focused on the issues that are unique to a mass casualty scenario involving anthrax. This workshop follows recently updated clinical guidelines released by CDC for the prevention and treatment of anthrax in adults and pregnant and postpartum women.
Large numbers of people could develop inhalation anthrax during a biological attack using Bacillus anthracis. CDC stores quantities of antibiotics and anthrax antitoxin in the Strategic National Stockpile. In an emergency response, CDC is prepared to provide these antibiotics and antitoxins to counteract anthrax exposure and protect individuals’ health. The goal of the two-day workshop was to convene subject matter experts for a review of relevant research and develop clinical prioritization schemas that will assist in the allocation of anthrax medical countermeasures in a mass casualty event. Participants included individuals from academic, clinical, local public health, and federal institutions. NACCHO ensured local public health had a voice in this national initiative by providing opportunities for local public health officials to participate at the workshop and to eventually review the final guidance document
The workshop’s agenda included discussions around proposed anthrax antitoxin recommendations, antibiotic treatment recommendations, meningitis, diagnostic and prognostic indicators of systemic anthrax, proposed alteration in diagnostic testing and fluid drainage, pregnant and pediatric special populations, and knowledge gaps. Participants also provided feedback on an overall framework that included crisis standards of care for the evaluation and treatment of persons presenting with signs and symptoms of anthrax.
NACCHO’s activities in supporting the CDC to develop guidelines to assist clinicians in the evaluation, triage, diagnosis, and treatment of patients presenting with symptoms of anthrax following a mass casualty event are vital to further preparedness on a national and local level.
Read more about anthrax here.