The chief of the state’s primary lab for anthrax testing is delivering an address in Iowa City today on bioterrorism. Dr. Mary Gilchrist, director of the University of Iowa Hygienic Laboratory, says she’ll talk about the history of bio-warfare.While bioterrorism wasn’t a common term before September 11th for most Iowans, Dr. Gilchrist says the weaponizing of diseases is a tactic that’s been used for centuries.The first documented incident was in the 1300s when bodies of plague victims were catapulted over city walls in Eastern Europe. She says the first case in what’s now the U-S may have been during the early 1700s when the British infected Native Americans with smallpox by giving them tainted blankets. Dr. Gilchrist says things have calmed down considerably at the Iowa City lab since the anthrax frenzy was at its peak. She says they’re now looking back to see what they’ve learned from all the early attention.Gilchrist speaks at noon today at the Rockwood Fellowship Hall of the Iowa City Congregational Church. The presentation is open to the public. She’s also president of the Association of Public Health Laboratories.
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