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Better microbial interception needed

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WASHINGTON, Sep 02, 2005 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- The system for intercepting microbial threats at U.S. airports, seaports and borders needs strategic leadership and a comprehensive plan, a report said.

The report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta said individual quarantine stations at U.S. ports of entry should be given responsibility to lead the effort to protect the public from microbial threats that originate abroad.

"No single entity currently has the responsibility, authority and resources to orchestrate all the activities of the quarantine system, and the traditional responsibilities of quarantine personnel are no longer sufficient to meet the challenges posed by the rapidly increasing pace of global trade and travel and the emergence of new microbial threats," said Georges Benjamin, chair of the committee that wrote the report.

The individual quarantine stations and the CDC's Division of Global Migration and Quarantine screen travelers, refugees, immigrants, animals and cargo for disease agents shortly before and during their arrival at U.S. gateways.

Roughly 120 million people travel through the nation's 474 airports, seaports and land-border crossings each year -- and any could import naturally occurring infectious agents, such as the SARS virus, or manmade threats like an attack using a dangerous biological agent.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International.

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