Diseases & Conditions


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Bioterrorism and children


Children are at particular risk when exposed to biological weapons, and the time available for treatment is much shorter than for adults. Although the effects of bioterrorism weapons such as ANTHRAX and SMALLPOX are the same for children as for adults, children are particularly susceptible to these agents because of their size and stage of development. The severity of the effect depends on the stage of life. Very young children are most likely to suffer severe effects because they have a faster breathing rate, a higher skin-to-mass ratio, more permeable skin, and less fluid reserve. Although public health authorities are not recommending large-scale smallpox vaccination for children, the vaccine is available if needed. Treatment guidelines also are in place for possible anthrax exposure, in which antibiotics would be administered in appropriate doses for children to prevent disease.