RealNews

To guard against bioterror, Baltimore has Huffman

When Jerry Huffman went on vacation recently to Myrtle Beach, S.C., he took his laptop with him. Each day he rose at 4 a.m. as usual to download data on Baltimore ambulance runs, animal deaths and cough syrup sales, and answer the question that rules his life: Have bioterrorists attacked? “Paranoia,” Huffman says, without hesitation, when asked what trait has proved useful in his work. “I’m paranoid. I’m semi-obsessed with this job.” From a windowless office at the Baltimore Health Department decorated with an American flag cut from a T-shirt and a harrowing list of pathogens, Huffman runs the city’s bioterrorism surveillance system, distinguished by its bare-bones cost and comprehensive data. A biological assault on the United States – say, in retaliation for an American invasion of Iraq – would not be announced by a telltale explosion, probably not even by warning notes like those found in the anthrax letters 18 months ago. It might begin with a release of invisible aerosol in a shopping mall, or the arrival at an airport of foreign travelers notable for their unrestrained coughing. Full Story

OODA Analyst

OODA Analyst

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