North Carolina preps bioterror early warning system

North Carolina has announced that it will implement an early-warning system  to detect bioterrorist attacks.

The system, called the North Carolina Bio-Preparedness Collaborative, will serve as a national model, reports. It will be designed to provide timely warnings in cases of bioterrorist attacks, food-borne illnesses or other threats to public safety.

Representative David Price, chairman of the House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, was instrumental in securing the one-year, $5 million grant to fund the effort.

“The goal of this groundbreaking effort is to save lives in the event of a major biological event, whether naturally occurring or manmade – to provide reliable early detection of an event and to inform a successful response by our public health system,” Price told “In North Carolina, we have the advantage of state-of-the-art health information systems and unparalleled collaboration among institutions that will be brought to bear in this ambitious effort.”

The NCB-Prepared program will utilize an array of health data, including electronic hospital records and prescription databases, to detect threats to public safety faster than traditional disease surveillance systems would.

The project is a cooperative agreement between the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University, the SAS Institute, the N.C. Division of Public Health and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center.