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What is bioterrorism?

Bioterrorism is the intentional or threatened use of an infectious agent (a virus or bacteria) or toxin (for example, botulinum toxin) to produce illness or death in people, animals, or plants.

Why should employers and employees be concerned?

Employers and employees whose jobs would not ordinarily involve exposure to infectious agents could be exposed through acts of terrorism. Conventional thinking is that terrorists are likely to target places where large populations can be found, such as large buildings, sporting events, or mass transit systems. Recent events have shown that there is a wider range of physical locations that could be targeted and this expands the range of employees who could be exposed.

Bioterror agents

Fact sheets from the Saint Louis University School of Public Health Institute for Biosecurity.

Regulation and policy

If your workplace is a potential terrorism target, the hazard should be included in your overall accident prevention program.


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The following agencies have resources available to assist employers and employees in preparing for and responding to bioterror attacks.

Washington State Department of Labor & Industries Washington State Department of Health
Northwest Center for Public Health Practice Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA)
Centers for Disease Control (CDC) National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH)

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