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Emergency Guide Biological Threat

Table of Contents

Part II: Natural Disasters and Public Emergencies

Biological Threat

Biological agents are bacteria, virus, or toxins that can kill or incapacitate people, livestock, and crops.   
Delivery Methods
  • Aerosols - biological agents are dispersed into the air forming a fine mist that may drift for miles.  Inhaling the agent may cause disease in humans and animals.
  • Animals – insects and animals such as fleas, mice, flies, mosquitoes, and livestock spread some diseases.
  • Food and water contamination – some pathogenic organisms and toxins may persist in food and water supplies.  Most microbes are killed, and toxins deactivated, by cooking food and boiling water for three minutes.
  • Person-to-person – a few infectious agents, such as smallpox, plague, and the Lassa viruses, can spread through human contact.
Precautions for Known or Suspected Exposure
  • Move away from the agent quickly
  • Remove and bag contaminated clothes and items
  • Wash with soap and water
  • Contact public health authorities
  • Monitor local broadcast media for emergency information and instructions
  • Seek medical attention if symptoms appear – public health instructions may include avoiding others or quarantine
Additional information on Biological Threats is available on the following websites:
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security at
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  at