Health workers get bioterrorism training

Public health officials from eight Southeast Missouri counties underwent bioterrorism training Friday at the Show Me Center.

Dr. John Kraemer, with Southeast Missouri State University's Center for Environmental Analysis, gave a program entitled "Bioterrorism and Public Preparedness."

About 40 health-care workers from public health departments in various counties attended, including Cape Girardeau, St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve, Bollinger, Stoddard, Scott, Butler and New Madrid. Also in attendance were university, Cape Girardeau Fire Department and Southeast Missouri Hospital personnel.

"He was talking about why public health needs to be prepared for this and what our role would be," said Jane Wernsman, assistant director of the Cape Girardeau County Public Health Center.

She said that some mistakenly think that bioterrorism would be limited to metropolitan areas.

"But that's not true," she said. "There is potential and we are not exempt."

They went over the five categories of terrorism: biological, nuclear, incendiary and explosive. She said the public health agencies would most likely be most needed in the case of a biological attack, which has been brought to the forefront since the war with Iraq. Iraq is believed to have chemical weapons.

"In case of a biological attack, our role would be to identify the source and prevent spreading," she said.