U.S. Coast Guard

Representatives of neighboring jurisdictions

The list is not intended to be either prescriptive or inclusive.

Instructor’s Background Information on the Incident, Scene I

This scenario involving terrorism with a biological weapon of mass destruction (WMD) portrays an incident that local response groups and agencies can use to evaluate their coordination and response capabilities. They may also identify shortfalls in personnel or other resources that can be supplemented by state or federal sources. The scenario is intended to portray only the hypothetical technical features of a biological terrorism incident and does not represent an actual event.

This scenario takes place in [city, state]. [Briefly describe the airport at which this incident occurs.] In this scenario, a terrorist obtains four aerosol containers (emitting particles 1 to 5 micrometers in diameter); each is filled with 25 grams of freeze-dried, genetically altered Bacillus anthracis (anthrax) spores. The aerosol containers are placed in air ducts near baggage claim and ticketing areas within the airport, but immediately after the placement of the containers a security guard comes upon the terrorists and is stabbed.

Anthrax spores are biological agents that enter the body through inhalation, the primary danger in this scenario. Exposure to anthrax spores can also occur via breaks in the skin (open wounds, sores, and even very minor scratches). B. anthracis is a persistent agent capable of surviving in spore form for 1 to 2 years in direct sunlight or for decades if it is protected from direct sunlight.

The effects after an exposure normally appear within 2 to 3 days, although new cases occurred up to 60 days after a now well-characterized aerosol emission in Sverdlosk, Russia, in 1979. The initial symptoms of exposure to anthrax spores are low-grade fever and aches and pains, resembling the early stages of the flu. The illness progresses over 2 to 3 days until the sudden development of severe respiratory distress, followed by shock and death within 24 to 36 hours in essentially all untreated cases. The rate of mortality is high even with intensive supportive therapy and antibiotics, especially if treatment is delayed after the victim first exhibits symptoms.

An easily observable event indicating the initial release of anthrax spores is not necessary, and most planning has assumed that bioterrorism involving anthrax would be a covert release that would result in the wide dispersal of victims, both geographically and, because of varying incubation times, temporally. The only experience to date, however, has been



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