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Hopkins study dispels 'panic' myth and suggests ways to involve public in response to a bioterrorist attack

naccurate or contradictory information could lead to mistrust of authorities, confusion, panic, and increased fear. Leaders must treat information as importantly as they treat medicine. Good communication and practical prevention tips will be vitally important in successfully dealing with a bioterrorism attack, explains Dr. Schoch-Spana.

In addition, there is an urgent need to create an information stockpile. Multilingual public services announcements, leaflets, and other materials should be developed to provide concrete information on vaccines, antibiotics, and exposure risks during a biological attack.

Finally, biodefense planners must develop trust with the community. The researchers recommend leaders continually educate the public on preparedness and response plans for bioterrorism and encourage the publics input on important biodefense planning measures. Leaders should also develop a collaborative relationship with the news media to ensure an open flow of information during an emergency.

For a long time, biodefense planners have viewed the public as bystanders during a potential crisis, but the people will play a critical role during a bioterrorism attack. As we spend another $500 million buying enough smallpox vaccine to fill several warehouses, we must at the same time understand that teaching people concrete and practical steps they can take to avoid becoming infected or infecting others will remain the first and most important line of defense in the aftermath of a bioterrorist attack, says Dr. Glass.


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Contact: Tim Parsons or Ming Tai
paffairs@jhsph.edu
410-955-6878
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health
4-Dec-2001


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