Biological and chemical agents in terrorism examined at AAN Annual Meeting

HONOLULU, HI (March 31, 2003) - The neurological effects of bioterrorism and the history of biological warfare will be examined at the American Academy of Neurology 55th Annual Meeting taking place this week in Honolulu.

On Tuesday, April 1, "Biological Toxins in War and Terrorism - An Historical Overview" will be presented by Shrikant Mishra, MD, Department of Neurology, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California. Mishra will present the historical perspective of biological toxins used in warfare and global terrorism, from ancient to contemporary times. He will focus on such biological toxins as anthrax, smallpox, and botulinum toxin, their use in war and as terrorist weapons of mass destruction.

"The recent insurgence of national and international terrorism is a potential threat to the world as a whole," says Mishra. "Lessons learned from the past will be a guiding force for the future. Early recognition and elimination of these sources, and prompt treatment of exposure to biological toxins is essential for saving humanity."

A seminar on "Bioterrorism and Neurology" on Thursday, April 3 will focus on developing bioterrorism response plans for local hospitals and clinics, which would be expected to manage neurological complications of botulism, smallpox, anthrax and nerve gases. Faculty members for this program have expertise in both the clinical and basic science aspects of bioterrorism. Each of them has had experience as "preparedness" educators in their own practice settings: a U.S. Army hospital, a Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and an Indian Health Service Medical Center. This program is designed to prepare neurologists to be better educators on the neurological issues related to bioterrorism. Participants will learn the emergency medical management of patients exposed to biological warfare agents and nerve gases, and also learn about current basic research aimed to develop neuroprotective agents against the weapons of

Contact: Marilee Reu
American Academy of Neurology

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