SLU Professor Warns of Bio-Terror Vulnerability

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – On this day of remembrance, we also recall the anthrax scare that closely followed the 9/11 attacks.

But Dr. Alan Zelicoff, director of the Institute for Biosecurity at St. Louis University, says in the decade since five people were killed by the deadly white powder, the U.S. still hasn’t learned its lesson and remains far too vulnerable to bio-terror attacks.

He’s amazed that in this age of technological wonders, there’s still no real-time disease surveillance that could save precious time when trying to spread the word about a threat or outbreak.

“And we caught a number of outbreaks in the past ten years or so that are rather embarrassing in that it took quite awhile for those outbreaks to be recognized,” Zelicoff said.

Dr. Zelicoff is working on a system that will allow medical experts to more quickly recognize patterns which might signal an attack is underway.

“The difference is making it easy for clinicians to report to local public health officials via an electronic system such that they also get to see the data which is being reported by other clinicians,” Zelicoff said. “And that’s exactly what’s missing right now.”

Zelicoff operated a similar system at his previous job before coming to St. Louis University, but it was shut down following cutbacks in public health funding.

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