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  • University of New South Wales

Biosecurity and Bioterrorism: Public Health Dimensions

An introduction to public health and wider responses to high-risk biological agent events, epidemics and bioterrorism.

2,963 enrolled on this course

Biosecurity and Bioterrorism: Public Health Dimensions
  • Duration

    4 weeks
  • Weekly study

    4 hours

As our understanding of biology and disease has increased, so has our ability to manipulate both, leading to serious concerns about protecting and maintaining public health. High risk biological agent events, epidemics and bioterrorism are issues we are increasingly facing in the 21st century.

This course will introduce you to some of these topics and concerns - examining the basics of biosecurity. It will help you understand how diseases spread and how we can use health intelligence to inform how we can manage issues of biosecurity.

Learn about identifying biosecurity events

In order to manage biosecurity events effectively it’s crucial to understand them. We’ll look at the basic principles of infectious disease investigation, epidemiology and communicable disease response. We’ll also work on examining the differences between natural versus unnatural patterns of infectious disease.

Understand how to analyse health intelligence in the event of a biosecurity threat

In today’s world vast amounts of data are generated in healthcare. We’ll look at how this intelligence can be interpreted and analysed in relation to biosecurity events.

Finally, we’ll look at public health concerns related to biosecurity and bioterrorism events and evaluate the basic control measures for responding to such events. In doing this we’ll review some of the policy and ethical concerns related to contemporary biosecurity.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 8 seconds We’re scared, Alex. We’re days away from a full blown riot. So you came halfway across the city with good news? I run The Truth. Mute this. No common link between the clusters. Terrorism? It presents just as big a threat as bombings, or rogue gunmen. My wife is sick. She’s in quarantine. I need to send a unit to the address. Nobody kills 100 people just to kill 100 people. You do it to send a message. You do it to make a point. The most likely cause is severe flu. She’s one of the few people working on a vaccine. I believe she’s already developed it. It’s a death toll update. It’s bigger than I thought.

What topics will you cover?

  • Basic concepts of infectious disease investigation
  • Basic concepts of infectious disease epidemiology
  • Basic concepts of infectious disease public health response
  • Outline of communicable disease response
  • Introduction to biosecurity
  • Introduction to bioterrorism and biological agent outbreaks or events
  • The general features of response to biosecurity and bioterrorism events
  • Historical examples of biosecurity and bioterrorism events
  • Health intelligence for the investigation and management of biosecurity and bioterrorism events
  • Introduction to policy, regulatory and ethical concerns related to biosecurity and bioterrorism

Learning on this course

You can take this self-guided course and learn at your own pace. On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Explain the basic principles of infectious disease investigation, epidemiology and public health response.
  • Explain the basic principles of communicable disease response.
  • Reflect on the differences between different types of bioterrorism and biological agent outbreaks or events.
  • Identify the most important public health concerns, and the general response, to biosecurity and bioterrorism events.
  • Reflect on the importance of health intelligence for the investigation and management of biosecurity and bioterrorism events.
  • Debate basic policy and ethical concerns relating to contemporary biosecurity.

Who is the course for?

This course has no special requirements but might be of special interest to policy makers, security agencies, military personnel, first line responders, health professionals and academics.

Who will you learn with?

My name is Dr David Heslop MD. I am an Associate Professor at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. I have interests in CBRN medicine, and health systems design and research

I am an epidemiologist with a primary focus on estimating the burden of influenza in the population, time series analysis in public health and syndromic surveillance and early outbreak detection.

Raina MacIntyre (MBBS Hons 1, M App Epid, PhD, FRACP, FAFPHM) is Head, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, UNSW and Professor of Infectious Diseases Epidemiology.

Who developed the course?

UNSW Sydney

Established in 1949 with a unique focus on the scientific, technological and professional disciplines, UNSW is a leading Australian university committed to making a difference

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps, but you can complete them as quickly or slowly as you like
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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