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FAQ: Can dentists help detect a bioterrorist attack?
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  1. Can dentists help detect a bioterrorist attack?   
  2. What are the challenges in detecting a bioterrorist attack?
  3. How does the government detect a bioterrorist attack?
  4. What role will dentist have in the future of bioterrorist surveillance?
  5. What is the definition of surveillance?
  6. What is an outbreak?

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    1. Can dentists help detect a bioterrorist attack?   

    A bioterrorist attack is the deliberate release of viruses, bacteria, or other agents to cause illness or death in people, animals, or plants. These viruses and bacteria could cause a systemic disease with oral manifestations. Dentists may  be the first health professional to interact with an unknowing victim and/or identify their oral manifestations.

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    2. What are the challenges in detecting a bioterrorist attack?

    Detecting a bioterrorist attack can be difficult. A bioterrorist may use agents against a single person or a large population, they may attack an isolated area or a vast geographical region. A bioterrorist may use agents that are extremely difficult to detect and that have a delayed presentation (several hours to several day). 

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    3. How does the government detect a bioterrorist attack?

    Public health officials utilize automated surveillance systems which collect and integrate information from a variety of sources to identify areas of potential disease outbreak.

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    4. What role will dentists have in the future of bioterrorist surveillance?

    Thanks to the Internet and other technologies such as electronic dental records, data could be collected anonymously from dental offices and added to the information used by public health officials to detect disease outbreaks. Dental informatics experts are developing the methods and standards that will make it possible for dentists to contribute to future biosurveillance efforts.

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    5. What is the definition of surveillance?

    Surveillance is the ongoing systematic collection, analysis, and interpretation of health data for purposes of improving health and safety

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    6. What is an outbreak?

    An outbreak is an attack that involves multiple people in a specific geographical area.

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Last update: Feb. 5, 2015
Authored by: Humberto Torres-Urquidy

 

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