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Experts Urge Preparation for Viral Bioterror Attacks

A group of U.S. experts warns that terrorists could use viruses that cause deadly bleeding as weapons. As we hear from David McAlary, the panel says predicting such a bioterrorist attack is impossible.

Experts convened by the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health say the medical community must prepare for the possibility that bioterrorists will attack with fatal hemorrhagic fever viruses such as Ebola and Marburg.

But the group says an attack is unpredictable and recovering would be difficult. It points out that most physicians are unfamiliar with the symptoms and there are no widely distributed diagnostic tests.

Furthermore, few effective therapies or vaccines are available.

These viruses are extremely contagious, requiring patient isolation and impermeable protections for hospital workers.

In a statement in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the experts call for instituting strict infection controls to prevent the diseases from spreading. They also recommend development of a rapid diagnostic test.