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  • standardizing and strengthening the system of requirements for ensuring security at facilities involved in the isolation, storage, accumulation, scientific study, etc., of infectious human, animal, and plant pathogens

  • minimizing the number of facilities (especially in major population centers) that are permitted to store Group 1 or Group 2 pathogens and selecting the best staffed and equipped institutions in the various regions to serve as interagency centers for the storage of such infectious agents

  • giving these interagency centers federal priority status, providing them with armed guard services, instituting the appropriate access pass control regime, equipping their grounds with hard-to-overcome barriers with electronic alarm systems, and installing automatic intrusion and fire alarm systems in buildings where pathogen collections are housed

  • requiring these federal priority status institutions to work with local and regional law enforcement and internal affairs agencies to develop antiterrorism security plans and adopt appropriate operating practices accordingly

  • eliminating and preventing the future creation and augmentation of so-called “personal” collections of Group 1 and Group 2 pathogenic microorganisms and viruses, collections that are currently poorly controlled

Personnel training matters also require immediate attention inasmuch as inadequate understanding of biological weapons problems in the 1980s and 1990s led to practically the complete disappearance from training program curricula of topics related to protection against biological weapons, the microbiology of infectious pathogens, epidemiology, pathogenesis, clinical aspects, and the prevention and treatment of related infectious diseases. As a result, this led to a reduction in the average level of preparedness of specialists to take action in case of an emergency. This situation must be rectified without delay by reviewing relevant training programs and instituting new revised curricula for the training of medical personnel in all categories and specializations, especially epidemiologists, microbiologists, virologists, laboratory medicine specialists, and infectious disease specialists.

Of course, these top priority measures recommended for implementation do not touch on all aspects involved in countering bioterrorism in all its diverse forms. In our opinion, however, they will represent real steps toward resolving related problems associated with ensuring the biological security of the country and the sanitary-epidemiological welfare of the population.

SOURCE: K. K. Raevsky. Military Medical Academy. 2002. Highest Priority Measures for Creating a System to Counter Biological Terrorism. Military Prevention Medicine: Problems and Perspectives. Proceedings of the First Congress on Military Medical Prevention Programs in the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. St. Petersburg (in Russian):75-77. Reprinted with the permission of the Military Medical Academy of the Russian Federation.

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