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Yersinia pestis, Bacillus anthracis and Francisella tularensis cause serious zoonotic diseases and have the potential to cause high morbidity and mortality in humans. In case of natural outbreaks and deliberate or accidental release of these pathogens rapid detection of the bacteria is crucial for limitation of negative effects of the release. In the present study, we evaluated 11 commercially available rapid test kits for the detection of Y. pestis, B. anthracis and F. tularensis in terms of sensitivity, specificity and simplicity of the procedure. The results revealed that rapid and easy-to-perform lateral flow assays for detection of highly pathogenic bacteria have very limited sensitivity. In contrast, the immunofiltration assays showed high sensitivity but limited specificity and required a too complicated procedure to be applied in the field by nonlaboratory workers (e.g. First Responders like fire, police and emergency medical personnel). Each sample - whether tested negative or positive by the rapid tests - should be retested in a reference laboratory using validated methods.