Detection and Response

illustration of man in hazmat suit taking samples

If anthrax were used as a weapon in the United States, the attack could be detected in one of two ways. Monitoring systems set up nationwide might detect the anthrax after it was released. Or, it might go unnoticed until doctors begin to see unusual patterns of illness among patients in emergency rooms. At that point, alert doctors might suspect anthrax and order lab tests to diagnose anthrax.

It could take days for labs to confirm anthrax in those early samples. But with enough evidence, CDC and other health agencies would not need to wait for lab confirmation before they took action.

CDC and partners could respond by:

  • Sending samples through the Laboratory Response Network (LRN)
  • Continuing to test samples to learn more about the strain of anthrax
  • Deploying field staff to talk to patients and learn more about how they were exposed
  • Shipping out medicine and supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) to local Points of Dispensing (PODs)
  • Providing guidance to clinicians, health departments and other partners on how to respond
  • Communicating life-saving information to the public