Washington bioterrorism lab seeks funding to keep doors open

The Spokane Regional Health District recently voted to use $75,000 from its general fund to keep its bioterrorism lab in Eastern Washington open until the end of the year.

In that time, however, the health district will make an appeal to the community to fund the lab to keep it from closing for good, Inlander reports.

"We've reached out to over 60 different partners for support," Joel McCullough, the head of the Spokane Regional Health District, said, according to Inlander. "Pretty much everyone is supportive of the lab staying here, but no one has come forward to support it financially."

The lab costs approximately $160,000 annually to test for bioterrorism agents such as anthrax and ricin. Law enforcement agencies from Western Montana to Eastern Washington use the facility.

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich proposed that Spokane County, the City of Spokane Valley and the City of Spokane Valley should provide the funds to keep the lab open.

"For some reason, we forget the lessons we learned the hard way," Knezovich said, Inlander reports. "It takes a major disaster, and we spend all this money to get all the capabilities, and then when it comes down to making sure we have them into the future, people don't want to pay for them because, well, that happened years ago."