Agencies Plan for Threat of Smallpox
Baltimore Sun; 1B
In Maryland, state health officials are working with officials from the city of Baltimore to devise plans to deal with a possible outbreak of smallpox. Although the plans are not yet finished, officials envision the isolation of patients, temporary bans on public events, large-scale vaccinations, and appeals for some people to remain at home until the danger passes. According to Baltimore's health commissioner, Dr. Peter L. Beilenson, it is highly unlikely that there will ever be a bioterrorism attack on Baltimore using smallpox as a weapon. Nevertheless, Beilenson says, the consequences associated with such an attack would be so terrible that public health officials have to devise plans to meet such an eventuality. The U.S. government is currently setting the overall strategy for combating an outbreak of smallpox, but it is leaving many of the finer points to local health agencies to resolve. In addition, the U.S. government has signed a deal with a British pharmaceutical company for the manufacture of enough smallpox vaccine to inoculate every person in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced recently that it would think about implementing wide-scale quarantines, such as sealing off an entire city, if an outbreak of smallpox appeared to be spreading out of control.