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A recent consultants’ brainstorming session on education and communication needs for bioterrorism resulted in numerous suggestions to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta. Some of the points of information and recommended items for action included:
• Strengthen the CDC Health Alert Network e-mail notification system to ensure that all state and local health departments are involved.
• Make surveillance and reporting as automatic as possible, and do not depend on the clinician to initiate the report quickly.
• Because the CDC is recognized as an authoritative source for information provided through Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report and press releases, the CDC web site should be changed to make it more user-friendly.
• Ruling out disease is the most important clinical issue, rather than identifying new cases of disease.
• Clarify roles when a criminal investigation is going to occur during a public health emergency.
• Develop a prototype disaster plan for use by communities and make it readily available.
• The cacophony of information is a problem. For clinicians, an appropriate tool would be a page of bulleted information necessary for the clinical setting. This should be provided in addition to baseline information.
• The CDC smallpox plan is a good model for allowing outside review during the development phase.
• Identify additional ways for using communication technology, particularly e-mail, to link local resources together.