California-Mexico Border Area Could Become Target for Bioterrorist Attacks, Health Officials Warn
The border between California and Mexico "could be considered a likely target" for a bioterrorist attack, public health officials said yesterday, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Speaking at a San Diego Dialogue forum, Dr. Stephen Waterman, the U.S.-Mexico border epidemiologist for the CDC, and other health officials said that the area is vulnerable because of the "potential for uncoordinated response," the large amount of individuals that cross the border each day, the high number of crop-dusting planes that could be used to spread disease and military targets located in San Diego. According to a report released at the forum by the Border Health Information and Education Network at the University of California-San Diego, "it would be easy for a terrorist to release pathogens on either side of the border that would rapidly spread in both counties." The report added, "Preparedness and repsonse to [a bioterrorist] attack will require a well-coordinated and efficient partnership between the civic and health authorities of California and Baja California." Waterman said that the Department of Health Services has established a "work plan" to address "several critical areas" in the border area, but added that a "formal agreement" between the United States and Mexico "probably is needed to assure both countries that critical information will be exchanged in a timely manner" (Sanchez, San Diego Union-Tribune, 5/21).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.