Infectious Disease Disasters: Bioterrorism, Emerging Infections, and Pandemics

Terri Rebmann, PhD, RN, CIC, FAPIC Director, Institute for Biosecurity, and Professor, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics

Saint Louis University, College for Public Health and Social Justice
St Louis, MO

Revised Publication:
March 4, 2020
Original Publication:
October 2, 2014
Declarations of Conflicts of Interest:
  • Terri Rebmann reports that she works as a paid per diem subject matter expert for Elsevier, editing online courses/modules on topics related to infectious diseases, infection prevention, and disasters.


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 multi-departmental and multi-agency endeavor that encompasses the four principles of emergency management: mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery.

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