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Recognizing and treating victims of bioterrorism

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Monday: Your crew responds to the local public health department clinic for an emergency transfer. On arrival, you find the clinic staff with a 26-year-old patient in acute respiratory distress. They advise you that the patient came into the office this morning complaining of flu-like symptoms and rapidly decompensated. You and your partner prepare and transport the patient to the emergency department (ED) without incident.

Tuesday: Doctors' offices, clinics and EDs throughout your community report a rapid, atypical increase in patients with severe flu-like symptoms. Most patients present with respiratory distress, fatigue and fever.

By afternoon, your system decides to place an extra unit on the road to accommodate the increased emergency calls and advises all crews to take extra blood and body-fluid precautions when transporting patients who complain of flu-like symptoms. During the evening news, you hear that two people have died because of the illness.

Wednesday: More than 50% of your EMS calls are related to the flu-like illness that has now affected more than 1,000 city residents. Three health-care workers are confirmed to have developed the illness. All EMS personnel have been called in and briefed regarding patient contact precautions. Local, state and federal officials are working to identify the cause of the illness.

Introduction

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