Also, decontaminants can neutralize biological agents in infected areas after a biological attack.Developing and fielding effective biological weapon sensors that can trigger an alarm would allow personnel to don masks before exposure, get into protective overgarments, and go inside, preferably into toxic-free collective protection shelters.Lethal biological weapons may be capable of causing mass deaths, but they are incapable of mass destruction of infrastructure, buildings, or equipment.
Protective overgarments, including boots and gloves, are useful for preventing biological agents from contacting open wounds or breaks in the skin.
A successful civil defense against major biological attacks requires that significant progress be made in sensors, warning systems, vaccines, medicines, training of responders, and public education as well as in planning of emergency procedures.
These aspects of civil defense are described briefly in this section, using as examples certain practices put into effect in the United States since September 11. Effective vaccines for plague and cholera now exist and have been approved for use, but only small quantities have been produced, far short of what might be needed if large numbers of people were to be infected.
Medical teams could then immediately go into action to check and treat those who may have been exposed.
Biological warfare attacks can be made less effective, or ineffective, if the targeted persons have been United States, but progress does not necessarily equal success.
Biological warfare agents differ greatly in the type of organism or toxin used in a weapons system, lethality, length of incubation, infectiousness, stability, and ability to be treated with current vaccines and medicines.