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Researchers Publish Dentists' Guide to Bioterrorism and Catastrophe Response

A Quick-Reference Resource From the NYU College of Dentistry

NYU’s College of Dentistry has developed a quick-reference guide that provides dentists with descriptions of agents and diseases that could potentially be used as weapons.

Bioterrorism and Catastrophe Response: A Quick-Reference Guide to Resources offers fast access to information that would be critical to providing diagnosis and treatment in the event of a catastrophic attack. The Journal of the American Dental Association published the guide in its June issue.

The guide was compiled by Dr. Susan Z. Han, a 2003 graduate of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine and an incoming resident in NYU’s postgraduate endodontics program; Dr. Michael C. Alfano, Dean of the NYU College of Dentistry; Dr. Walter J. Psoter, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Health Promotion; and Dr. E. Dianne Rekow, Director of Translational Research and Professor of Basic Science and Craniofacial Biology and of Orthodontics. The authors reviewed information about the most probable bioterrorist weapons (including anthrax, botulism, plague, smallpox, tularemia, and viral hemorrhagic fevers) from the World Wide Web and print journals and distilled it into a resource list that is current, relevant to dentistry, and noncommercial.

The authors hope that this guide will provide dentists with information that could help them make fast, accurate diagnoses that could limit the spread of exceptionally contagious diseases. In addition, the authors want to encourage dentists to provide accurate information to patients to minimize misinformation and the associated public fear and panic that, unchecked, could overwhelm health care systems.

NYUCD developed the guide as part of an ongoing effort to raise awareness of the role dentists can play in bioterrorism preparedness. Last fall, Dean Alfano announced that NYUCD was establishing a Bioterrorism and Catastrophe Response Task Force, led by Dr. Rekow, to focus on adopting an integrated approach to intervention, facilitating training as “first responders” for dental professionals, communicating in a timely and reliable manner to the public, enabling rapid distribution of medical supplies, conducting research to help detect a biological weapon before it becomes a catastrophe, and creating an emergency response plan for the College. NYUCD is part of the federally funded Catastrophe Preparedness and Response Center at NYU, which was established with a $7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Bioterrorism and Catastrophe Response: A Quick-Reference Guide to Resources, appears on the Web site of the Journal of the American Dental Association: http://www.ada.org/prof/pubs/jada/index.asp.

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