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August 6, 1997

The Threat of Biological Weapons: Prophylaxis and Mitigation of Psychological and Social Consequences

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Md.

JAMA. 1997;278(5):425-427. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03550050087038

The microbial world is mysterious, threatening, and frightening to most people. The stressors associated with a biological terrorist attack could create high numbers of acute and potentially chronic psychiatric casualties who must be recognized, diagnosed, and treated to facilitate triage and medical care. Media communications, planning for quarantine and decontamination, and the role of community leaders are important to the mitigation of psychological consequences. Physicians will need to accurately diagnose anxiety, depression, bereavement, and organic brain syndromes to provide treatment, reassurance, and the relief of pain.