"Response to the poster from physicians and other health-care workers not only across the state, but also throughout the nation was phenomenal," said Karen K. Hoffmann, associate director of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill School of Medicine-based program. "Our Web site, from which the chart can be printed out, received 25,000 hits within a few months. More than half the states asked for copies, and many adopted, adapted and distributed it throughout their entire public health systems."
Now, Hoffmann and her colleagues have taken their public service effort a step further. They have completed a new wall chart focusing on chemical terrorism agents and the medical syndromes they cause. Next week, they will send it to all N.C. hospital emergency departments and health departments.
"We believe this chart is even more important than the first one since chemical terrorism is a lot more likely than biological terrorism," Hoffmann said. "Developing and distributing biological agents is relatively difficult. Planting a bomb on a tanker truck or train car loaded with chlorine is relatively easy, and there's a potential for many civilian casualties. Cyanides are 25,000 times more toxic than botulism."
North Carolina ranks eighth in the country in its risk of accidental exposure because of the type, placement and volume of chemicals it manufactures, stores and transports, she said.
"Recognition of exposed persons will fall on primary-care physicians, emergency room physicians, EMTs and infection control professionals, and most of them have had little prior experience in respon
Contact: David Williamson
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill