Iowa State University experts involved in preventing acts of bioterrorism have organized a national conference of veterinarians opening today in Orlando, Florida. Dr. Gayle Brown is assistant director of I-S-U’s Center for Food Security and Public Health.She says there will be over 120 veterinarians attending from 45 states and Puerto Rico. Dr. Brown says these veterinarians, who deal with both livestock and pets, will be trained in how to recognize certain biological agents that could be the act of terrorists.They’ll be educated and sent home to do presentations throughout their states to increase awareness of the agents of bioterrorism — to be best prepared and hopefully prevent widespread outbreaks. Brown says the list of potential agents include: anthrax, botulism, plague, brucellosis and toxins like ricin.Brown says most of these are considered zoonotic (zoh-ah-non’-ik), meaning both animals and people can be affected by them. She says a zoonotic disease outbreak could devastate human health, animal health, food production and the U-S economy. Dr. James Roth is the director of Iowa State’s Center for Food Security and Public Health Roth says this training is not in response to any immediate threat. He says Anthrax is an example of a such a disease, but he says the goal is to raise everyone’s awareness to be vigilant. U-S Surgeon General Dr. Richard Carmona will give the keynote address on the role veterinarians play in bioterrorism preparedness and the U-S public health system.
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