Biological emergencies can be due to unusually large outbreaks of familiar diseases, such as pandemic influenza, or newly emerging diseases, such as West Nile virus. They may also involve a deliberate release of germs or other biological substances that can make you sick.
Many agents must be inhaled, enter through a cut in the skin or be eaten to make you sick. Some biological agents, such as anthrax, do not cause contagious diseases. Others, like the smallpox virus, can result in diseases you can catch from people.
In the event of a biological emergency, public health officials will provide information on what you should do as quickly as they can through television, radio, and newspapers. However, it can take time for them to determine exactly what the illness is, how it should be treated and who is in danger.
The information on this section of Michigan Prepares will help to better understand the threats biological agents pose to you and your family.