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Shelley Osterloh ReportingA new Congressional Research report says a million residents --- about half Utah's population --- could be harmed by toxic gas exposure if terrorists were to attack a Utah Chemical Storage Facility. The report urges officials to better protect chemical storage facilities -- there are more than a hundred across the country.
Bioterrorism is the intentional release of germs in an attempt to cause fear, illness or death. If Utah were targeted, would you know what to do to save yourself and your family? The threat is real and being prepared and knowledgeable could help you stay safe.
In 2001 deadly anthrax was delivered in the mail to the Senate, State Department, and news organizations. It was January of 2004 when a truck driver walked into a West Valley ER with a rash that looked like it may have been Small Pox. It turned out instead to be a bad case of chicken pox, but how community and state health officials reacted and researched his condition is textbook for any community health emergency.
These are some of the stories told in a new documentary produced by the Utah Health Department.
Cody Craynor, Public Information Officer, Utah Department of Health: "This documentary presents the facts about bio-terrorism. And the more we understand the facts, the better it is, the easier it is to overcome the fear of bio-terrorism. If people learn more about bio-terrorism, they know what they can do. They'll feel empowered and feel like they have a role in protecting themselves."
In "Battling Back, Taking on Bioterrorism in Utah", host Jane Clayson also outlines the top threats: small pox, anthrax, botulism, pneumonic plague, tularemia, and a group of diseases collectively called viral hemorrhagic fevers. You learn what each one is, how you get it, if it's contagious, and what the symptoms are.
Cody Craynor, Public Information Officer, Utah Department of Health: "We also want people to have a good understanding of the things they can do to protect themselves and their families."
The documentary also outlines what you should do to prepare for bio-terrorism, things like having extra food and water in storage, a personal family contact list, emergency plan and mobile emergency kit.
Dr. Patrick Luedtke, Dir. Public Health Laboratories: "Most everyone is afraid of the unknown, and if you plan for any possible event, you can really get rid of a good deal of that fear."
The Health Department has prepared a pamphlet for residents with tips on what you should do to prepare for an emergency such as bio-terrorism. And you can watch the documentary, "Battling Back -- Taking on Bioterrorism in Utah" on KSL channel 5 Sunday at 10 am. After that Comcast will carry it on demand for about a month.