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Div. of Media Relations
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MS D-14
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(404) 639-3286
Fax (404) 639-7394

November 26, 2001
Contact: CDC Media Relations
(404) 639-3286

Press Release

CDC Update: CDC Releases Draft Smallpox Response Plan

Atlanta, Georgia – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today released "Interim Smallpox Response Plan and Guidelines," which outlines CDC's strategies for responding to a smallpox emergency.

The plan, which is a working draft, has been sent to all state bioterrorism coordinators, state health officers, state epidemiologists, and state immunization program managers for review and comment.

The plan identifies many of the federal, state, and local public health activities that would need to be undertaken in a smallpox emergency, including response plan implementation, notification procedures for suspected cases, CDC and state and local responsibilities and activities, and CDC vaccine and personnel mobilization.

"The global public health community in a landmark effort 21 years ago eradicated smallpox from the planet," said CDC Director Dr. Jeffrey P. Koplan. "Today, we find ourselves preparing for a difficult-to-imagine event, an intentional release of smallpox. Although such a release might be unlikely, we must prepare for it so that the spread of illness will be minimized."

The plan also provides state and local public health officials with a framework that can be used to guide their smallpox planning and readiness efforts as well as guidelines for many of the general public health activities that would be undertaken during a smallpox emergency.

The plan was developed in conjunction with state epidemiologists, bioterrorism coordinators, immunization program managers, and health officials. Many of the strategies and concepts were used successfully in the global eradication of smallpox, which was declared globally eradicated in 1980.

The "Interim Smallpox Plan" will remain a working document that will be updated regularly to reflect changes in overall public health resources for responding to a smallpox emergency.

State, local, and private health officials are being asked to: 1) identify additional tools that would be useful to their state and local plans; 2) identify and describe gaps in the overall plan, proposed activities, and guidelines; 3) identify concepts, approaches, activities or guidelines that need clarification or further explanation; 4) assess the proposed strategies and guidelines with respect to state and local plans; 5) assess resources and resource needs; and 6) identify additional elements, steps, or activities that should be undertaken in response to a smallpox emergency.

The foremost public health priority during a smallpox outbreak would be control of the epidemic. Doctors, health care workers and hospital personnel have been trained to identify infectious diseases, verify their diagnosis and then respond appropriately. The same system would identify any possible outbreak of smallpox.

The plan does not call for mass vaccination in advance of a smallpox outbreak because the risk of side effects from the vaccine outweigh the risks of someone actually being exposed to the smallpox virus.

A summary of the plan will be posted today at

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) protects people's health and safety by preventing and controlling diseases and injuries; enhances health decisions by providing credible information on critical health issues; and promotes healthy living through strong partnerships with local, national and international organizations.

For the latest update on CDC activities and on-going anthrax investigations visit or


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This page last updated November 26, 2001

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