Bioterror attack threat real, expert says

During the recent "Ten Years After 9/11 and the Anthrax Attacks: Protecting Against Biological Threats" hearing, a senior U.S. official warned that the threat of a biological terror attack is still "real and challenging."
Alexander G. Garza, the assistant secretary for health affairs at the Department of Homeland Security, said that the threat is present despite the large amount of money that has been spent on countermeasures over the last decade. Garza spoke before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on Tuesday, Xinhua reports.
"A wide-area attack using aerosolized Bacillus anthracis, the bacteria that causes anthrax, is one of the most serious mass casualty threats facing the U.S.," Garza said, according to Xinhua. "A successful anthrax attack could potentially expose hundreds of thousands of people, and cause illness, death, fear, societal disruption and economic damage."
The hearing comes on the 10th anniversary of the anthrax attacks following the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, during which a series of letters containing anthrax spores were sent so some congressional offices and the offices of several news outlets, killing five people and sickening 17.

The hearing follows on the heels of the new report released by the WMD Terrorism Research Center examining the nation's preparedness for a biological attack. The report said that while the government has spent more than $65 billion on biodefense since 2001, it had done so without an end-to-end, strategic assessment of the nation's bioresponse capabilities.