Alameda County Public Health Officials To Ask Federal Government for Help With Bioterrorism Preparedness
Alameda County public health officials plan to ask federal officials for help with their bioterrorism preparedness programs following a June 12 computer-simulated anthrax attack on Berkeley Marina that determined that 9,000 people would have been killed, "expos[ing] gaps" in the county's new bioterrorism preparedness plan, the Oakland Tribune reports. In the simulated anthrax attack, created in the Weapons of Mass Destruction Decision Analysis Center at Sandia National Laboratories-California in Livermore, county doctors and epidemiologists attempted to convert local high schools into mass hospitals and to distribute the antibiotic Cipro. However, in the computer model the county lacked time, public health workers and uncontaminated areas to effectively distribute the treatments. In the simulation, by the 11th day the county had called in a special mass-fatality team from the Department of Homeland Security to handle the fatalities. Alameda County Public Health Officer Tony Iton said of the exercise, "Despite the best of our plans, even with everything operating the way we would want it to operate, we still lost 9,000 lives in Alameda and Contra Costa counties," adding, "We're just not resourced to deal with any devastating, national-level disaster." County public health officials concluded that early detection and faster distribution of Cipro could have decreased the number of deaths into the hundreds. The officials have asked federal officials for faster access to federal emergency personnel to distribute drugs and for biowarfare detectors, which check for contamination in the air and in the ground (Hoffman, Oakland Tribune, 7/3).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.