Autonomous detection systems (ADSs) are under development to detect agents of biologic and chemical terror in the environment. These systems will eventually be able to detect biologic and chemical hazards reliably and provide approximate real-time alerts that an agent is present. One type of ADS that tests specifically for Bacillus anthracis is being deployed in hundreds of postal distribution centers across the United States. Identification of aerosolized B. anthracis spores in an air sample can facilitate prompt on-site decontamination of workers and subsequent administration of postexposure prophylaxis to prevent inhalational anthrax. Every employer who deploys an ADS should develop detailed plans for responding to a positive signal. Responding to ADS detection of B. anthracis involves coordinating responses with community partners and should include drills and exercises with these partners. This report provides guidelines in the following six areas: 1) response and consequence management planning, including the minimum components of a facility response plan; 2) immediate response and evacuation; 3) decontamination of potentially exposed workers to remove spores from clothing and skin and prevent introduction of B. anthracis into the worker's home and conveyances; 4) laboratory confirmation of an ADS signal; 5) steps for evaluating potentially contaminated environments; and 6) postexposure prophylaxis and follow-up.
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