N.C. partnership develops new biothreat detection system

A public-private partnership in North Carolina has developed a new biothreat detection system that may improve early outbreak detection of North Carolina health events, including bioattacks.

The system was developed by the North Carolina Bio-Preparedness Collaborative, which is a public-private partnership that includes North Carolina State University, SAS, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The system integrates data from sources like the environment, food production, processing and distribution, and animal and human clerical services to detect potential health threats more effectively and quickly. Some data will include hospitalization, tainted food reports and ambulance calls.

The data will give public health experts the ability to differentiate between environmental changes, normal health patterns and natural or manmade bio-threats.

"Local and state health directors have wide-ranging responsibilities for supporting the public's health," David Potenziani, the NCB-Prepared Executive Director, said. "Because of that, they are critical to the success of our project, and are also the ones who could be most empowered with information. We look forward to sharing the promise of NCB-Prepared and learning additional ways this system could help them do their jobs better every day."

The system will be demonstrated this week with a scenario that uses a real-world incident that has the attributes of a biological attack. The system is expected identify the threat much faster than the current system could.