P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0112
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 11, 2000
SAN ANTONIO -- Local health experts, military contractors and state health officials testified Monday on the area's readiness for the unwelcome possibility of a bioterrorist attack during a special San Antonio meeting of the Senate Health Services Committee.
The meeting was at 10 a.m. Monday, April 10, in the City Council Chambers of the San Antonio Municipal Plaza, 103 Main Plaza.
In the wake of two anthrax hoaxes in her senate district in just two years, Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, who chairs the Health Committee, is taking steps to ensure that Texas is prepared for the possibility of bioterrorism as part of the committee's interim charges to analyze biogenetic research in Texas.
A Lewisville man was arrested earlier this year on charges that he threatened the public with anthrax through the mail. That arrest came about two years after postal workers at a bulk mail center in Coppell discovered a vial labeled: "You have just been contaminated by anthrax."
"Even though these threats turned out to be false, it's chilling to think that anyone would terrorize us with deadly biogenetic material. Unfortunately, we've seen too many acts of random violence to know that we should take all threats to our safety seriously," Senator Nelson said. "Our committee is in a perfect position to work with our hospitals, our public health agencies and our best minds in the field of biogenetics to ensure that Texas is prepared."
Already, many of the state's metropolitan areas are working on bioterrorism initiatives after the highly publicized anthrax attacks on Japan's subway systems. Invited testimony on San Antonio's efforts is expected from: Dr. Fernando Guerra, Bexar County Medical Society; Dr. Dennis Perrotta, Texas Department of Health; Max Burke, San Antonio-based Vector Inc. Testimony will also be taken on each of the Committee's interim charges.