This three-day Symposium explores NATO nation’s research and development on medical diagnostics and countermeasures against biological agents (B-agents) or related highly contagious infectious diseases is a key issue in both military medical readiness and a Nation’s public health ability to counter those threats. Prophylaxis in the form of vaccination, when available, is clearly preferable but may be impracticable for a broad spectrum of B-agents.

Immunization presumes the availability of an approved vaccine that can be administered to healthy individuals in anticipation of a known biological threat; with the appropriate number of doses required for the vaccination regimen. The incubation time required for onset of disease following a B-agent exposure (if detected in a timely manner or diagnosed early) offers the possibility for therapeutic intervention. Many therapeutic countermeasures have not been specifically tested and/or approved for use following B-agent exposure. Likewise, in the case of new or emerging diseases (e.g. SARS, MERS, avian influenza, etc.), the effectiveness of these countermeasures is likely unknown.

This Symposium will address a broad study of the mechanisms of B-agent related infectious disease, prophylaxis and therapy, and will provide a concise overview of the present state-of-the-art in medical countermeasures against B-agents, with a focus on their use in CBRN defense.

In addition to the broad underlying discussion of medical countermeasures (MCM) to emerging and evolving infectious diseases in general, the Task Group preceding this Symposium (HFM-RTG-186) identified fifteen Bagents of primary interest.

Specifically, these were (1) variola major (smallpox), (2) Bacillus anthracis, (3) Yersinia pestis (plague), anthrax), (3) Yersinia pestis (plague), (4) Francisella tularensis (tularemia), (5) filovirus Ebola and (6) filovirus Marburg (viral hemorrhagic fevers), (7) Clostridium botulinum toxin (botulism), (8) alphaviruses (VEE, EEE, WEE) (viral encephalitis and others.