The terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001 and the deliberate release of anthrax in the United States had consequences for public health not only there, but also in Europe. Europe?s public health systems had to manage numerous postal materials possibly contaminated with anthrax. Our survey aimed to document the response of European public health institutes to recent bioterrorist events to identify the gaps that need to be addressed; 18 institutes from 16 countries participated in this Euroroundup. Bioterrorist threats in Europe were hoaxes only, and should be considered as a "preparedness exercise" from which three lessons can be drawn. Firstly, because of inadequate preparedness planning and funding arrangements, Europe was not ready in October 2001 to respond to bioterrorism. Secondly, although European institutes reacted quickly and adapted their priorities to a new type of threat, they need adequate and sustained support from national governments to maintain their overall capacity. Thirdly, the recent crisis demonstrated the need for increased investment in epidemiology training programmes and the establishment of a technical coordination unit for international surveillance and outbreak response in the European Union.
Auteur : Coignard B
Eurosurveillance, 2001, vol. 6, n°. 11-12, p. 159-66