HC Deb 09 May 2002 vol 385 c354W
Dr. Gibson

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what precautions the Government plans to take in the event of(a) plague and (b) Ebola attack. [53898]

Mr. Hutton

[holding answer 2 May 2002]: My Department issued guidance to all health authorities and regional directors of public health on the procedures to be followed in the event of a deliberate release of plague and other biological agents, on 17 October. At the same time, guidance for medical and laboratory staff was issued by the public health laboratory service (PHLS) concerning the precautions to be adopted in the event of an outbreak of plague and other biological agents. This advice is available on the PHLS website:

http://www.phls.co.uk/advice/smallpox guidelines.pdf

Plague can be treated with antibiotics and the Department has a substantial stockpile of appropriate antibiotics that could be deployed in the event of an outbreak of plague following a terrorist attack.

For Ebola, which is one of the viral haemorrhagic fevers. (VHF), guidance on the management and control of VHFs has already been produced by the advisory committee on dangerous pathogens. Further guidance on the action to be taken in the event of a deliberate release of a VHF has been drawn up by the PHLS and is being revised following review by the Viral Haemorrhagic Fever Working Group of the Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens. There is no treatment for Ebola virus infection and patients are normally cared for in isolation facilities.

The Chief Medical Officer has also written to general practitioners, and participated in a symposium at the Royal College of Physicians, for the medical profession.

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