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Be Informed

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Know and Understand Bioterrorism Agents

Bacteria, viruses, and poisons made by bacteria cause biological emergencies. They can be sprayed into the air, used to poison food, and put into drinking water. Some types can also be spread by person-to-person contact.

If There Is a Biological Emergency/Attack

Unlike an explosion, a biological attack may or may not be immediately obvious. You will probably learn of the danger through an emergency radio or TV broadcast, or some other signal used in your community. You might get a telephone call or emergency response workers may come to your door.


In the event of a biological attack, public health officials may not immediately be aware of the nature of the attack, but still will be able to tell you what to do at that moment. It will take time to determine exactly what the illness is, how it should be treated, and who is in danger. You should watch TV, listen to the radio, or check the Internet for official news.


During a Declared Biological Emergency

  1. If a family member becomes sick, it is important to be suspicious
  2. Do not assume, however, that you should go to a hospital emergency room or that any illness is the result of the biological attack. Symptoms of many common illnesses may overlap
  3. Use common sense, practice good hygiene and cleanliness to avoid spreading germs, and seek medical advice
  4. Find out if you are in the area authorities believe to be in danger
  5. If your symptoms match those described below and you are in the group considered at risk, seek immediate emergency medical attention


If You are Potentially Exposed

  1. Follow instructions of doctors and other public health officials
  2. If the disease is contagious expect to receive medical evaluation and treatment; you may be told to stay away from others
  3. For non-contagious diseases, expect to receive medical treatment


If You Become Aware of an Unusual and Suspicious Substance Nearby

  1. Quickly get away
  2. Protect yourself by covering your mouth and nose with layers of fabric that can filter the air but still allow breathing
  3. Wash with soap and water
  4. Contact authorities
  5. Watch TV, listen to the radio, or check the Internet for official news and information
  6. If you become sick seek emergency medical attention


Use Common Sense

  1. Stay healthy, eat well and get plenty of rest
  2. Use common sense to determine if there is immediate danger
  3. Wash your hands with soap and water frequently
  4. Stay away from crowds where others may be infected
  5. Wear a face mask to reduce spreading germs



If a family member develops any of the symptoms below, keep them separated from others, practice good hygiene to avoid spreading germs, and seek medical advice.

  1. A temperature of more than 100 degrees
  2. Nausea and vomiting
  3. Stomachache
  4. Diarrhea
  5. Pale or flushed face
  6. Headache
  7. Cough
  8. Earache
  9. Thick discharge from nose
  10. Sore throat
  11. Rash or infection of the skin
  12. Red or pink eyes
  13. Loss of appetite
  14. Loss of energy or decreases in activity



If someone is sick, you should practice good hygiene and cleanliness to avoid spreading germs.

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water frequently
  2. Do not share food or utensils
  3. Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
  4. Consider having the sick person wear a face mask to avoid spreading germs
  5. Plan to share health-related information with others, especially those who may need help understanding the situation and what specific actions to take


For more information visit the Missouri State Department of Health and Senior Services and Ready America.

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