Lay summary
Biological Terrorism and Crisis Management in Switzerland - Lessons Learned from the Anthrax Alert and Steps Ahead

The study on biological terrorism is structured as follows: The aim of the first part is to give a general introduction to biological terrorism and efficient crisis management. The second section addresses the Anthrax alerts in Switzerland in autumn 2001; the analysis of how these alerts were managed should help learning lessons for the future. The next part of the study aims at describing Switzerland`s present preparedness for a bioterrorist incident and at illustrating planed security measures. Finally, recommendations will be made on how Switzerland`s preparedness for a future bioterrorist incident can be enhanced.

The Anthrax attacks in the United States in autumn 2001 set off a wave of more than 1000 false Anthrax alerts in Switzerland. For Switzerland, this was the first time it was confronted with a tangible bioterrorist threat. Therefore, the Swiss authorities were barely prepared for such a threat. Moreover, the Anthrax incidents in autumn 2001 increased the awareness of antibiotics-resistant Anthrax spores.

The study aims at giving recommendations on how Switzerland`s preparedness for a future bioterrorist incident could be enhanced. The goal is to recommend concrete measures, such as the standardization of detection methods, which Swiss laboratories should use when there is suspicion of bioterrorism. Another recommendation will be to strenghten cooperation between human and veterinary medicine, since many germs that qualify for bioterrorism can be found in the animal world and be transmitted to human beings.

Up till now, no comprehensive study on biological terrorism with a focus on Switzerland has ever been written. Therefore, many questions are still open, for instance the question of which governmental department would take over leadership in the event of a bioterrorist incident. The intended study offers the unique opportunity to give an overview of Switzerland`s preparedness for bioterrorist incidents.