The National Academies: What You Need To Know About Infectious Disease

The National Academies

What You Need To Know About Infectious Disease

Biological Threats and Terrorism: Assessing the Science and Response Capabilities—Workshop Summary (2002)

In the wake of September 11th and recent anthrax events, our nation's bioterrorism response capability has become an imminent priority for policymakers, researchers, public health officials, academia, and the private sector. In a three-day workshop, convened by the Institute of Medicine’s Forum on Emerging Infections, experts from each of these communities came together to identify, clarify, and prioritize the next steps that need to be taken in order to prepare and strengthen bioterrorism response capabilities. From the discussions, it became clear that of utmost urgency is the need to cast the issue of a response in an appropriate framework to attract the attention of Congress and the public and garner sufficient and sustainable support for such initiatives. No matter how the issue is cast, numerous workshop participants agreed that there are many gaps in the public health infrastructure and countermeasure capabilities that must be prioritized and addressed in order to assure a rapid and effective response to another bioterrorist attack.

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What do you know about infectious disease?

True or False: Thimerosal, a mercury-containing preservative that was used in some vaccines and other products, has been shown to present a risk to human health.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    The use of thimerosal has been an object of controversy, with some arguing that the substance caused autism in children. However, extensive independent research has presented no convincing evidence of harm associated with the low levels of thimerosal previously present in vaccines.

  • Correct!

    The use of thimerosal has been an object of controversy, with some arguing that the substance caused autism in children. However, extensive independent research has presented no convincing evidence of harm associated with the low levels of thimerosal previously present in vaccines.