NewsHealth / April 7, 2016

Smallpox Exercise Highlights Importance Of Emergency Planning

Smallpox Exercise Highlights Importance Of Emergency Planning

INDIANAPOLIS -- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has identified smallpox as a serious threat to national security because it can be used as a weapon against civilian populations.

Smallpox has a high mortality rate and no cure, and the last time the CDC update the response plan was 2002.  

Rep. Susan Brooks, R-5th District, hosted a smallpox outbreak exercise at the Fishers Library Wednesday, highlighting the importance of a plan. Nationally known preparedness expert Dr. Craig Vanderwagen conducted the event.

"If you had garden variety smallpox and were able to put it in a subway system in NYC… you’d have the spread of that disease very quickly,"  Vanderwagen said.

About 40 people, local health leaders, public officials and emergency management experts, broke into groups to consider an outbreak scenario and response options.

Vanderwagen says having a game plan is critical.

"In terms of identifying the teams that are going to play, training those teams to play. What is the equipment that they need? Most of it’s going to be common equipment,"  Vanderwagen said. 

Very few Americans born after 1980 have been vaccinated for smallpox.  Experts say the United States has enough vaccination for a majority of the population.



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