Experts Urge Caution in Setting Bioterrorism Policies

Bioterrorism may present more risks for Americans than just those posed by anthrax and other contaminating agents, experts say. Among the issues of concern are the side effects of antibiotics, such as Cipro(r), and the potential for resistance to antibiotics in general, which already has been of concern to the medical establishment.

The medical community is also debating the benefit of immunizing against smallpox in the absence of an actual exposure and in view of the fact that the disease is not prevalent in any area of the world. Among the concerns raised in conjunction with smallpox vaccinations are the rare but yet noteworthy risk of complications such as death, severe infections, and the possibility of contaminating others with the disease, since it is a live virus vaccine.

Caution and self-control are needed when deciding on policies to counter bioterrorism threats, the experts say; otherwise, the results would be more devastating and harmful than those derived from the contaminating agents.

For more on this topic, go to http:www.nytimes.com/2001/10/22/national/22RISK.html/.

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