Facts and Frequently Asked Questions

This page is provided as a resource for general information on terrorism, both domestic and international. More information on the topics below is also available through the Kansas City Health Department.

This information is divided into three categories:

Critical Infrastructure

Q. How can I help protect critical infrastructure and key assets in Kansas City region?

A. Support the Critical Infrastructure Assessment Program by scheduling your site for a vulnerability assessment. If you believe your site qualifies as a critical infrastructure or key asset and you would like to discuss the possibility of an assessment, please contact your local Law Enforcement agency.

Support your community by reporting suspicious activity to the Kansas City Regional TEW Inter-Agency Analysis Center (KCTEW). The primary focus of the KCTEW is to prevent an incident before it can occur. In the event of an emergency requiring immediate law enforcement assistance, always call 9-1-1.

Q. How is the federal government protecting critical infrastructure?

A. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is tasked with critical infrastructure protection across the nation. For more information, Visit the DHS website.

Reporting Suspicious Activity

Q. What exactly is "suspicious" activity?

A. No one knows what goes on in your neighborhood or at your place of business better than you. You may see things or hear things that seem out of the ordinary and may indicate suspicious or illegal conduct. Law Enforcement officials in the Kansas City Region often rely on the instincts and perceptions of citizens to detect activity that is out of the ordinary.

Q. What kind of activity should I look for?

A. You should immediately report people who photograph, videotape, sketch, ask detailed questions about or seek blueprints for: airports, water supplies, dams, bridges, major highway intersections, tunnels; power plants and substations, transmission towers; pipelines and tank farms; military installations, law enforcement agencies and defense contract sites; hospitals and health research facilities; internet, phone, cable and communications facilities or towers; and capitol, court and government buildings. Suspicious activity around historic structures and national landmarks should also be reported.

Q. Is it necessary for me to give my name and phone number to the authorities?

A. It is very helpful, especially if you want the report to be taken seriously. Also, someone may need to talk to you personally in order to better understand the details of what you saw.

Q. Will my identity be protected?

A. Yes. While your contact information may be shared among the appropriate law enforcement agencies that might need to reach you, every effort to keep your identity confidential will be made.

Q. Will I have to talk to the news media?

A. No. Your contact information will not be released to reporters. No one who reports suspicious activity is required to speak with the news media. The decision to remain anonymous or to speak with the news media is left entirely up to you.

Bioterrorism

Q. What is bioterrorism?

A. Bioterrorism is defined as an intentional release of infectious biological agents, or germs, to cause illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a bioterrorism section on its website that provides more information.

Q. What is anthrax and where can I get anthrax vaccine?

A. Anthrax is not transmitted from person to person. Those who come into contact with persons sick from anthrax cannot acquire the disease.

Anthrax is an acute infectious disease caused by spore-forming bacteria. In humans it is a rare disease usually associated with persons who have contact with dead animals or animal products such as wool, hair or hides as a result of their occupations. It can be spread through breathing in anthrax spores, through the skin when the skin comes into contact with infected animal products or contaminated soil, or through ingesting contaminated undercooked meat. Inhaled anthrax is very rare with only 18 confirmed cases from 1900-1976. The cases identified in Fall 2001 were the only known inhaled anthrax cases in the US in the last 25 years.

At this time public health officials do not recommend routine vaccinations of civilians with anthrax vaccine. Anthrax vaccine is not available except to members of the military. Anthrax vaccination requires six injections over an 18-month period with periodic boosters. The vaccine appears to be about 93 percent effective.

Q. What is smallpox and where can I get the vaccine?

A. Smallpox is a contagious viral infection spread by direct person-to-person contact. The last known case of smallpox occurred in Somalia in 1977. The World Health Organization has certified smallpox as eradicated from the planet. Symptoms include fever, aches, vomiting and a distinctive rash. Although there is no treatment, vaccination after exposure can be helpful and decreases the spread of the disease.

The United States maintains an emergency stockpile of smallpox vaccine. Smallpox vaccine is supplied only to certain laboratory workers who are at risk for smallpox viruses as a result of their occupation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is not allowed to release smallpox vaccine to any other person for any reason. In the absence of a confirmed case of smallpox anywhere in the world, there is no need to be vaccinated against smallpox. The military provides smallpox vaccine to their members, and others in health care have also received the vaccine.

Q. I was vaccinated against smallpox before 1980. Am I still protected?

A. Persons who were vaccinated that long ago probably have limited, if any, antibody protection against this disease. If it were determined that recent exposure to smallpox occurred, revaccination would be recommended. Contact the CDC for more information.

Q. Should my doctor prescribe preventive antibiotics against anthrax, plague or other bioterrorist threats?

A. No unusual illnesses or deaths suggestive of bioterrorism have been reported in the metro area. Therefore, preventive antibiotics are not needed at this time for anthrax, plague or any other bioterrorist threat, and public health officials at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend against prescribing them. Inappropriate use of antibiotics can lead to unnecessary harmful side effects, the development of antibiotic-resistant organisms, and a false sense of protection.

The CDC has stockpiled critical antibiotics and other vaccines ready for local distribution to affected populations within hours if needed.

Q. Should I buy a gas mask?

A. In order to be effective, personal protective equipment must be properly fitted and appropriate to the threat. Gas masks would only provide protection if worn at the time of a known release. Unless a mask was worn all the time, which is impractical, it would not protect against the covert release of biological agents.

Public health officials do not recommend that people purchase gas masks at this time. In the event of a chemical threat, the public would be instructed to stay home or be evacuated from areas of possible exposure. Members of the public not already in an affected area would be prevented from entering any areas of potential exposure.

Q. Are measures being taken to protect our water supply?

A. Methods already in place to filter and clean the drinking water supply are considered effective against most biological agents. Chlorine, for example, protects drinking water from water-borne bacteria and would neutralize most biological agents.

Q. Is there anything that I can do to prepare for a possible bioterrorist threat?

A. Consistent with long-standing guidelines on preparing for disasters (such as severe weather, floods and earthquakes), individuals should keep necessities on hand for a three-to-four day period. For more information about creating a disaster supplies kit, visit the American Red Cross website.

Keep alert to any suspicious activity and report it to local authorities. Do not open letters or packages that look suspicious. Visit the United States Postal Service website for more information regarding identification of suspicious mail.

Donate blood.


 



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