News of the WeekBIOTERRORISM

This Time It Was Real: Knowledge Of Anthrax Put to the Test

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Science  19 Oct 2001:
Vol. 294, Issue 5542, pp. 490-491
DOI: 10.1126/science.294.5542.490

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What appears to have been a series of attacks with anthrax has frayed the nerves of a nation already jittery from the 11 September massacres and has moved biodefense to the top of the political agenda. The apparent assaults posed a rare test of the country's capability to deal with a real bioterror attack--albeit a modest threat compared with the medical catastrophe that spraying a fine mist of anthrax over a big city could have wrought. But the crisis also trained a spotlight on the disease itself and the considerable investment in studying it.