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American BiodefenseHow Dangerous Ideas about Biological Weapons Shape National Security$
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Frank L. III Smith

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780801452710

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801452710.001.0001

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American Biodefense, from Boston to Baghdad

American Biodefense, from Boston to Baghdad

(p.1) American Biodefense, from Boston to Baghdad
American Biodefense

Frank L. Smith

Cornell University Press

This introductory chapter provides a background of biodefense and biological weapons. Biological weapons harm only living organisms because they incapacitate or kill through disease instead of causing blunt or penetrating trauma. The damage that these weapons cause can be limited through a combination of medical countermeasures, detection and identification, and physical protection—the key components of biodefense. Physical protection limits exposure to infection through face masks and filters that reduce the risk of inhaling aerosolized biological weapon agents. Detection and identification involves sensors and surveillance to help determine when a biological attack has occurred and what pathogens might be present. Lastly, medical countermeasures can prevent or treat infection through prophylactic vaccines and therapeutic drugs such as antibiotics.

Keywords:   biodefense, biological weapons, disease, medical countermeasures, biological attack, prophylactic vaccines, antibiotics

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