Educating Health Care Professionals in the Threat of Biological Attacks: A Digital Guide to Smallpox
Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, and the Anthrax letters that followed shortly thereafter, the American government and public have had growing concerns over the possibility of biological and chemical attacks in the United States. Review of our public health system has shown a need to better educate some of our medical professionals and first responders on smallpox, one of the more deadly biological agents that could be used in a terrorist attack. A great number of people, both professionals within the medical community and those who support them, are unfamiliar with the symptoms and effects of many of the diseases that could be used in a biological attack. This disturbing fact was supported by a study conducted by the National Immunization Program at the CDC. The findings of this study showed that "Physicians, overall, exhibited a limited knowledge of smallpox disease and had many misperceptions about its natural course and modes of transmission. There were some physicians who were unaware that smallpox has been eradicated" (Smallpox: Disease, Prevention and Intervention, 2003). The purpose of this project was to develop an educational resource that would assist medical professionals in preparing for and responding to a smallpox event. The guide contains detailed didactic material with supportive artwork and photographs, geared towards an educated audience. The guide is delivered in a HTML based format as an interactive CD-ROM, both Mac and PC compatible. The guide is designed to allow the users to cater the learning experience to suit their individual educational needs so that they can concentrate on those areas in which they need most, and by-pass those areas in which they are already familiar.