Weapons of mass destruction may be defined as chemical, biological, radiologic, nuclear, explosive, or incendiary devices intended to cause widespread injury or death.1 Injuries and illnesses resulting from weapons of mass destruction may be overt, subclinical, or delayed. Because veterinarians may find themselves responding to emergency incidents, they should be aware of the agents that may cause mass casualties. Importantly, if such agents have been used intentionally, then the incident is a crime scene, and responders should be aware of the need to secure the scene and preserve evidence. If the incident was intended to intimidate or coerce for social or political reasons, then it is classified as an act of terrorism, and federal regulations and authorities have jurisdiction.1 Specifically, animal enterprise terrorism has been defined as a crime that causes physical disruption to the functioning of an animal enterprise or economic damages exceeding $10,000 to that enterprise.2
There is little published information on the effects of most weapons of mass destruction in animals,3 although some information has been published on possible dangers for search-and-rescue dogs working in postdisaster environments.4–8 Nevertheless, veterinarians may obtain some useful comparative information from published reports of the effects of weapons of mass destruction on humans and their treatment. Because of the potential for veterinarians to be involved in the response to an incident involving weapons of mass destruction, they should have at least some awareness-level information of the various agents that might be used.
Similarly, although law enforcement personnel are responsible for securing crime scenes, gathering and preserving evidence, and maintaining a documented chain of custody for such evidence, veterinarians should have at least some rudimentary knowledge of the principles and practices of evidence preservation because they may be involved in rendering aid at the site of a disaster or treating victims at the site or elsewhere.
Terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. In: Oldfield KW, ed.Emergency responder training manual for the hazardous materials technician. 2nd ed. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2005;369–410.
Animal enterprise terrorism, 18USC §43 (2002).
Gleiser CA, Gochenour WS, Ward MK. Pulmonary lesions in dogs and pigs exposed to a cloud of anthrax spores. J Comp Pathol 1968;78:445–448.
Duhaime RA, Norden D, Corso B, et al. Injuries and illnesses in working dogs used during the disaster response after the bombing in Oklahoma City. J Am Vet Med Assoc 1998;212:1202–1207.
Otto CM, Franz MA, Kellogg B, et al. Field treatment of search dogs: lessons learned from the World Trade Center disaster. J Vet Emerg Crit Care Soc 2002;12:33–41.
Gwaltney-Brant SM, Murphy LA, Wismer TA, et al. General toxicologic hazards and risks for search-and-rescue dogs responding to urban disasters. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2003;222:292–295.
Murphy LA, Gwaltney-Brant SM, Albretsen JC, et al. Toxicologic agents of concern for search-and-rescue dogs responding to urban disasters. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2003;222:296–304.
Wismer TA, Murphy LA, Gwaltney-Brant SM, et al. Management and prevention of toxicoses in search-and-rescue dogs responding to urban disasters. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2003;222:305–310.
Chemical events. In:Basic disaster life support provider manual. Version 2.5.Chicago: American Medical Association, 2004;6-1–6-37.
WMD/nuclear/biological/chemical reference material. Sedgwick County Emergency Medical Service Web site. Available at: www.sc-ems.com. Accessed Sep 8, 2006.
United States Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense. Medical management of chemical casualties handbook. 3rd ed. Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md: Chemical Casualty Care Division, 1999.
Biological events. In: Basic disaster life support provider manual. Version 2.5.Chicago: American Medical Association, 2004;5-1–5-46.
Nuclear and radiological events. In: Basic disaster life support provider manual. Version 2.5.Chicago: American Medical Association, 2004;4-1–4-21.
US FDA. Potassium iodide as a thyroid blocking agent in radiation emergencies. Rockville, Md: Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, 2001.
US FDA. Internal radioactive contamination—development of decorporation agents. Rockville, Md: Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, 2004.
Traumatic and explosive events. In:Basic disaster life support provider manual. Version 2.5.Chicago: American Medical Association, 2004;3-1–3-25.
Personal protective equipment level C and WMD crime scenes. In:Weapons of mass destruction technical emergency response training course manual. Version 3.Anniston, Ala: Center for Domestic Preparedness, 2004;LC-1–LC-54.
Diseases and agents of concern because of their potential for use in bioweapons.
|Anthrax (Bacillus anthracis)|
|Botulism (toxin of Clostridium botulinum)|
|Brucellosis (Brucella spp)|
|Cholera (Vibrio cholerae)|
|Cryptosporidiosis (Cryptosporidium parvum)|
|Escherichia coli O157:H7|
|Emerging diseases (eg, Nipah virus and hantavirus)|
|Epsilon toxin of Clostridium perfringens|
|Glanders (Burkholderia [Pseudomonas] mallei)|
|Melioidosis (Burkholderia [Pseudomonas] pseudomallei)|
|Plague (Yersinia pestis)|
|Psittacosis (Chlamydophila psittaci)|
|Q-fever (Coxiella burnetii)|
|Ricin toxin from castor beans (Ricinus communis)|
|Rift Valley fever|
|Severe acute respiratory syndrome|
|Shigellosis (Shigella spp)|
|Smallpox (variola major)|
|Tularemia (Francisella tularensis)|
|Typhoid fever (Salmonella typhi)|
|Typhus fever (Rickettsia prowazekii)|
|Viral encephalitis (Alphavirus)|
|Viral hemorrhagic fevers (eg, Ebola, Lassa, and Marburg)|