Bioterror experts warn open research unwittingly could help terrorists

The Associated Press
Tuesday October 30, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A leading bioterrorism expert has cautioned against the freewheeling exchange of scientific ideas, saying unfettered public access unwittingly could help terrorists. 

“We should be cognizant of the power of our own science,” Thomas Inglesby of the Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense told doctors gathered Sunday at the Infectious Disease Society of America Conference. 

Inglesby said the same biotechnology research used to create disease-fighting drugs could make it easier for terrorists to develop biological weapons. Scientists soon will complete the genetic mapping of flu viruses, and Ingelsby warned that such information should not be shared publicly on the Internet. 

Meanwhile, most of the doctors attending the four-day event in San Francisco were preoccupied with how to distinguish early onset of anthrax from normal colds and flu, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. 

Julie Gerberding, acting deputy director of infectious disease control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, discussed the latest anthrax treatment guidelines via satellite hookup Sunday. 

The doctors were told that none of the patients with anthrax had a runny nose, a typical symptom of flu or cold. 

“Usually, inhalation anthrax shouldn’t cause runny nose or sinus congestion,” Northwestern University Medical School Professor Tina Stosor told the San Jose Mercury News, “but the verdict’s still out on that.”