Schundler Outlines Ideas To Combat Bio-Terrorism
GOP Candidate Joined by Bio-Terrorism Task Force Member Dr. Jeffrey Hall Dobken
November 5, 2001
(TRENTON, NOVEMBER 5) - Republican Gubernatorial Nominee Bret Schundler was joined by Dr. Jeffrey Hall Dobken Monday to talk about steps New Jersey can take to deal with the ongoing bio-terrorism threat.
“New Jersey has been the focal point of the on-going Anthrax scare, and it is important that our leaders be prepared to deal not just with this problem, but with other bio-terrorism threats we may face,” Schundler said. “With the Anthrax scare capturing the attention of the media and the public right here in New Jersey, we have no excuse not to begin planning for these threats.”
Dobken, a member of the Medical Society of New Jersey’s Bio-Terrorism Task Force, said that he looks forward to working with Schundler to combat these threats.
The following are some steps that Mayor Schundler is proposing to deal with the bio-terrorism threat:
- Educate the public about the different types of current and potential bio-terrorism attacks to the State of New Jersey. Make sure they are informed about what suspicious activity to look for in their mail, etc.
- Physicians must be trained to make sure they are prepared to spot the different types of diseases resulting from bio-terrorism. Increase coordination between physicians, health clinics, hospitals, the State Department of Health, the Federal Department of Health and Human Services, and the Center for Disease Control (CDC). The purpose of this coordination is to develop ways to recognize and treat different types of bio-terrorist attacks.
- Create a central Bio-Terrorism response unit, within the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Center. Currently, there is no structured response capability to bio-terrorist attacks among public health officials. However, recent outbreaks of West Nile virus and anthrax have given health officials valuable experience on ways to better improve their response to incidents of bio-terrorism. This Center will be able to pool the resources of various federal, state, and local law enforcement and health organizations that are called upon to respond to bio-terrorist attacks.
- Partner with the State’s pharmaceutical industry to provide technical resources in times of crises, such as laboratory testing and other emergency response resources, to ensure a rapid response to bio-terrorist attacks.
- Ensure that area hospitals and health clinics have adequate supplies of antibiotics that are readily available to treat exposure to Anthrax and other similar bacterias.
- Task the Department of Health to institute a preventative health program that will increase the number of flu vaccines administered to at-risk populations prior to the flu season. In general, the initial symptoms of exposure to anthrax or other bacteriological agents are the same as the flu and other wintertime viruses. Accordingly, Anthrax may mistakenly be identified as the flu, and conversely, the flu may be incorrectly diagnosed as Anthrax. Greater application of the flu vaccine to at-risk populations will minimize the number of potential incorrect diagnosis during a bio-terrorist attack.
- Of critical importance is stopping the threat of contagious viruses resulting from bio-terrorism. Anthrax is not contagious, however, smallpox can spread rapidly and cause massive casualties. As such, the State must develop an accelerated smallpox vaccine program, which requires a 24-hour a day, 7 day a week manufacturing of the vaccine. We should encourage studying more readily available temporary vaccines for smallpox until the more refined vaccine is ready to vaccinate the citizens of the State.
- Deploy the Emergency Management Response Center to conduct trial exercises to respond to acts of bio-terrorism. This will enable the State to effectively assess the effectiveness of its plan and the level of preparedness of health agencies, and make necessary adjustments to protect the health and safety of New Jersey residents.