One type of public health emergency that receives a lot of attention is bioterrorism. Technically bioterrorism refers only to terrorist acts using biological agents (bacteria & viruses), but often people use the word bioterrorism to include terrorist acts using chemical or radiological agents as well.

In preparing to respond to any type of infectious disease outbreak we are also preparing to respond to a bioterrorist event resulting from intentional release of a bacteria or virus - in fact, we might not know that the outbreak is the result of bioterrorism at the beginning. Once it is suspected that the outbreak was caused intentionally, the health department would work together with the FBI and others to investigate the event as both a disease outbreak and a crime.

Picture of Tom Brokaw anthrax letter

The CDC has designated the causes of 6 diseases as "Category A" agents that are considered to be the most likely disease agents to be used in a bioterrorist act. Please click on the links below to see the CDC fact sheets for each agent.

For further information on bioterrorism, please visit