The smallpox virus is a high-priority, Category-A agent that poses a global, terrorism security risk because it: (1) easily can be disseminated and transmitted from person to person; (2) results in high mortality rates and has the potential for a major public health impact; (3) might cause public panic and social disruption; and (4) requires special action for public health preparedness. In recognition of this risk, the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (LAC-DHS) developed the Smallpox Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Plan for LAC to prepare for the possibility of an outbreak of smallpox.
A unique feature of the LAC-DHS plan is its explicit use of the Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS) framework for detailing the functions needed to respond to a smallpox emergency. The SEMS includes the Incident Command System (ICS) structure (management, operations, planning/intelligence, logistics, and finance/administration), the mutual-aid system, and the multi/interagency coordination required during a smallpox emergency. Management for incident command includes setting objectives and priorities, information (risk communications), safety, and liaison. Operations includes control and containment of a smallpox outbreak including ring vaccination, mass vaccination, adverse events monitoring and assessment, management of confirmed and suspected smallpox cases, contact tracing, active surveillance teams and enhanced hospital-based surveillance, and decontamination. Planning/intelligence functions include developing the incident action plan, epidemiological investigation and analysis of smallpox cases, and epidemiological assessment of the vaccination coverage status of populations at risk. Logistics functions include receiving, handling, inventorying, and distributing smallpox vaccine and vaccination clinic supplies; personnel; transportation; communications; and health care of personnel. Finally, finance/administration functions include monitoring costs related to the smallpox emergency, procurement, and administrative aspects that are not handled by other functional divisions of incident command systems.
The plan was developed and is under frequent review by the LAC-DHS Smallpox Planning Working Group, and is reviewed periodically by the LAC Bioterrorism Advisory Committee, and draws upon the Smallpox Response Plan and Guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). The Smallpox Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Plan, with its SEMS framework and ICS structure, now is serving as a model for the development of LAC-DHS plans for responses to other terrorist or natural-outbreak responses.