BIOTERRORISM: CDC Recommends Training Health Workers
Primary care physicians, hospital emergency rooms and other local health providers "must learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of bioterrorism," federal officials warn. A new, yet-to-be-published CDC report says that increased training for health workers "will be critical to the United States' ability to respond" to a threat. CDC spokesperson Barbara Reynolds said that the Clinton administration has already accepted the recommendations. The report does not provide cost estimates for these measures, but Congress awarded the agency $120 million in 1999 to fund bioterrorism activities. In addition to retraining medical personnel, the CDC plans to assist state and local health authorities over the next five years to improve their ability to recognize dangerous agents and create a "network" that will link clinical laboratories to public health agencies in every state, as well as provide necessary diagnostic technology for state health facilities. According to the report, if medical personnel "fail to recognize suspicious illnesses or injuries, the consequences could be 'devastating' ... 'Only a short window of opportunity will exist between the time the first cases are reported and a second wave of the population becomes ill'" (Cimmons, Los Angeles Times, 4/24).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.