Major disease outbreaks continue to be a significant risk to public health, with pandemic influenza or an emerging infectious disease outbreak at the top of the UK National Risk Register. The risk of deliberate release of a biological agent is lower but remains possible and may only be recognised after casualties seek medical attention. In this context the emergency preparedness, resilience and response (EPRR) process protects the public from high consequence infectious diseases, other infectious disease outbreaks and biological agent release. The core elements of the EPRR response are recognition of an outbreak, isolation of patients, appropriate personal protective equipment for medical staff and actions to minimise further disease spread. The paper discusses how high-threat agents may be recognised by clinicians, the initial actions to be taken on presentation and how the public health system is notified and responds. It draws on the national pandemic influenza plans to describe the wider response to a major disease outbreak and discusses training requirements and the potential role of the military.
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