How real is the threat, and how prepared are we?
The world changed on September 11, 2001, and again on October 4, when the first case of inhalational anthrax in the United States raised worldwide fears of bioterrorism. Although the threat of bioterrorism in Australia has been assessed as low,1 defence and civil authorities had upgraded preparations before the 2000 Olympics.2 Those plans, coordinated by Emergency Management Australia, provided a basis for responses by state emergency services, health services and postal services to the numerous false alarms, "white powder" incidents and hoaxes that followed the US events. No anthrax spores or human anthrax cases associated with these incidents have been detected in Australia, but understandably they have caused considerable public anxiety. In retrospect, it now appears that the anthrax-containing letters in the US were probably of domestic origin, with no targets outside that country.3
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