Infectious Disease Disasters: Bioterrorism, Emerging Infections, and Pandemics

Author(s):
Terri Rebmann, PhD, RN, CIC Associate Professor

Saint Louis University, School of Public Health--Institute for Biosecurity
St. Louis, MO

Published:
October 3, 2014

Abstract

Infectious disease disasters are events that involve a biological agent/disease and that result in mass casualties, such as a bioterrorism attack, a pandemic, or an outbreak of an emerging infectious disease. Infectious disease disasters are different from other types of disasters because they increase the risk of communicable disease spread during and after the incident. Subsequently, they involve the need for specialized mitigation, planning, and response interventions to prevent and control the spread of disease. As experts in the fields of surveillance, epidemiology, and prevention of communicable disease spread, infection preventionists play a critical role in emergency management of infectious disease disasters at the personal, hospital/healthcare facility, and community level. Emergency management of infectious disease disasters is a multidepartmental and multi agency endeavor that encompasses the four principles of emergency management: mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery.1