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The Science of Forensic Epidemiology in Detecting a Biological Attack (Bioterrorism)

  • Steven A. Koehler
Chapter

Abstract

The covert biological attack carried out by the Rajneeshee Cult in Oregon in 1984 which involved the biological agent Salmonella Typhimurium is used to illustrate how the science of forensic epidemiology can be used to differentiate naturally occurring outbreaks from a covert act of bioterrorism. This chapter addresses six objects: first, to examine the changing roles of the health department, epidemiology, and epidemiologists in the investigation of a possible bioterrorism attack; second, to examine the development of the field of forensic epidemiology, the roles and functions of forensic epidemiologists, and the use of the forensic epidemiological approach and joint investigations to examine a possible bioterroristic attack; third, to examine the steps of a standard food outbreak investigation; fourth, to provide historic background information on the Rajneeshee Cult and their motives, agent selection, methods of dispersal, and the outcome of the biological attacks; fifth, to examine the steps used by the public health department to investigate the covert biological attack by the Rajneeshee Cult in 1984; and, finally, to illustrate some of the shortfalls and missed warning signs of the initial investigation and highlight the lessons learned from the attack and how a forensic epidemiologist approach differs from that of an epidemiologist approach as it relates to an investigation into a covert bio-attack that may appear as a naturally occurring outbreak.

Keywords

Forensic epidemiology Epidemiologists Biological attack Covert attack Rajneeshee cult Salmonella Typhimurium 

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven A. Koehler
    • 1
  1. 1.Forensic Medical InvestigationsPittsburghUSA

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