East Central Health of Georgia

East Central Health District

Bio-terrorism Agents and Disease

The U.S. public health system and primary healthcare providers must be prepared to address various biological agents, including pathogens that are rarely seen in the United States.

Category A

High-priority agents include organisms that pose a risk to national security because they can be easily disseminated or transmitted from person to a person; result in high mortality rates and have the potential for major public health impact; might cause public panic and social disruption; and require special action for public health preparedness.

  • Anthrax (Bacillus anthracis)
  • Botulism (Clostridium botulinum toxin)
  • Plague (Yersinia pestis)
  • Smallpox (variola major)
  • Tularemia (Francisella tularensis)
  • Viral hemorrhagic fevers (filoviruses [e.g., Ebola, Marburg] and arenaviruses [e.g., Lassa, Machupo])

Category B

Second highest priority agents include those that are moderately easy to disseminate, result in moderate morbidity rates and low mortality rates; and require specific enhancements of CDC’s diagnostic capacity and enhanced disease surveillance.

  • Brucellosis (Brucella species)
  • Epsilon toxin of Clostridium perfringens
  • Food safety threats (e.g., Salmonella species, Escherichia coli O157:H7, Shigella)
  • Glanders (Burkholderia mallei)
  • Melioidosis (Burkholderia pseudomallei)
  • Psittacosis (Chlamydia psittaci)
  • Q fever (Coxiella burnetii)
  • Ricin toxin from Ricinus communis (castor beans)
  • Staphylococcal enterotoxin B
  • Typhus fever (Rickettsia prowazekii)
  • Viral encephalitis (alphaviruses [e.g., Venezuelan equine encephalitis, eastern equine encephalitis, western equine encephalitis])
  • Water safety threats (e.g., Vibrio cholerae, Cryptosporidium parvum)

Category C

Third highest priority agents include emerging pathogens that could be engineered for mass dissemination in the future because of availability; ease of production and dissemination; and potential for high morbidity and mortality rates and major health impact. These pathogens include emerging infectious diseases such as Nipah virus and hantavirus.


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