Study: U.S. schools and businesses not ready for bioterrorism event

A study conducted by researchers at St. Louis University concluded that the majority of U.S. schools and businesses are not prepared for a bioterrorist attack or pandemic illness.

The preparedness study was undertaken by a team led by professor Terri Rebmann from the College for Public Health and Social Justice. It found that most American schools and businesses need to improve their biological disaster plans significantly, according to

"One of the key findings from the study was that about 60 percent businesses reported they have a policy that encourages their ill staff to stay home, but about 40 percent responded that the business has a culture that encourages staff to work when they are sick," the study said, reports. "There's a disconnect between written policies versus what the business culture encourages. This can contribute to disease spread in the business setting, especially among healthcare agencies."

The St. Louis University team determined that only 40 percent of U.S. schools have updated their pandemic and bioterrorism plans at any point in the last four years. They also said that only 48 percent have ever addressed pandemic preparedness, according to

The study, published in the American Journal of Infection Control, said that infections are particularly dangerous in school environments due to the regular close interaction between students and staff.