Louisiana simulates anthrax attack

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals ran a three day drill this week in cities throughout the state to test the state's public health response to distributing life-saving medication during an emergency.

The simulation was the release of anthrax. The simulation required volunteers to pretend to be residents affected by the release. One such simulation took place at Nicholls State University on Thursday in Lafourche Parish, Houma Today reports.

"When people think about public health, they think about things like shots," Connie Gistand, the medical director of the Region 3 public health office, which oversees Terrebonne and Lafourche, said, according to Houma Today. "But we do more than that. We're here to protect the health of the public. We're ready."

Anthrax is a fatal disease caused by the Bacillus anthracis bacteria and can be treated early with antibiotics.

The Nicholls State simulation was staffed with nursing students from the university. The school's Shaver Gym served as a distribution point for residents of the area to get antibiotics. In a real emergency, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Strategic National Stockpile would deliver medications to the state within 12 hours. The state's health department would then enact its own plan for distribution, using many dispensing points like the one at Nichols.

"You never know when you're going to need to use something like this," Ernest Triggs, a resident of Thibodaux and a volunteer for the simulation, said, according to Houma Today. "If we have a situation, somebody might need your help, and you'll know what to do."