Bioterrorism has put everyone at risk, children disproportionately so. Pediatricians may now face a task not taught in the traditional medical school courses: surveillance and containment of diseases intentionally bred to be deadly.

And while many public health experts question the wisdom of governments spending huge sums to prepare for battle against such invisible enemies as anthrax and smallpox, “...being unprepared (for such emergencies) is a worse disaster,” warned Michael Shannon, M.D., M.P.H., FAAP, associate chief of emergency medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital. He also is a member of the AAP Committee on Environmental Health, which, along with the AAP Committee on Infectious Diseases (COID), co-authored the AAP Policy Statement, “Chemical-Biological Terrorism and Its Impact on Children,” published in the March Pediatrics.

In March 1995, the terrorist group Aum Shinrikyo released the toxic nerve agent sarin in a crowded Tokyo subway station, affecting more than 5,000 lives. Minutes after...

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