SENATOR CAUTIONS ON BIOTERRORISM 



about Epidemiology & the department

Epidemiology academic information

Epidemiology faculty

Epidemilogy resources

sites of interest to Epidemiology professionals



Last Updated

08 Jan 2003

Source: Associated Press, April 26, 2002.

Senator Cautions on Bioterrorism

By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - Biological terrorism remains a serious threat to America, Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., warned Thursday.

"The risk is real. The risk is increasing. Our vulnerability remains high," Frist said at a briefing in an office building closed for months following last fall's anthrax-by-mail attack.

Sidney Taurel, chairman of the drug maker Eli Lilly and Co., called for cooperation among government, academic researchers and the pharmaceutical industry in finding new ways to detect and combat bioterrorism.

"This is not business as usual. This is not politics as usual. This is war," Taurel said at the briefing on terrorism and community preparedness held in the Hart Senate Office Building.

Frist, a transplant surgeon, said last fall's anthrax attack "was very successful ... and as far as we know this person's still out there."

More than 20 people became ill and five died following the mailing of anthrax-tainted letters from New Jersey. Some postal facilities remain closed because of the contamination. No arrests have been made despite a $2.5 million reward being offered by the Postal Service and FBI.

Frist told the session that between 11 and 17 countries either have stockpiled biological weapons or have bioweapons programs, including such threats as anthrax, botulinum toxin, tularemia, smallpox, plague and ebola.

Yet nine out of 10 public health departments in the United States don't have anyone trained in combating bioterrorism and as many as one-third lack an Internet connection for fast communications, Frist said.

In addition, he noted, only a small proportion of imported food is inspected.

Taurel said that in recent years there has been an increase in drug-resistant germs. In addition, he said there has been the emergence of newly discovered diseases such as ebola about which little is known, and there is a growing threat of manmade pathogens.

"Far from gaining control over infectious diseases, we are losing ground," he said.

The nation has been through a waking nightmare with the anthrax attack, Taurel said, and he fears that as the tragedy fades from the headlines the country will drift back to sleep.