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FOR RELEASE: April 13, 2002
CONTACT: Dick Gunn

Sooner Spring Bioterrorism Drills Ongoing Today - Update #2

Media Note: This is the second of four media advisories the Oklahoma State Department of Health will issue while Sooner Spring bioterrorism drills are conducted in Oklahoma City, Lawton, McAlester and Tulsa today.

As of 11 a.m. today, Sooner Spring mock bioterrorism exercises are proceeding on schedule and, despite stormy weather, most officials seem pleased with the level of participation and the timeliness of the operation so far. The following is a summary of this morning's activities. Please note - these are training exercises and NOT real outbreaks of disease:


Officials at the Tulsa City/County Health Department have been very impressed by the speed and thoroughness of the investigation of the mock smallpox outbreak in the Tulsa area. Today's portion of the exercise began before 6 a.m. and within an hour a security perimeter by the Tulsa County Sheriff's Department had been set up and a vaccination clinic site had been established by 8:05 a.m. Mock vaccinations had begun by 8:15 a.m. The initial source case was identified and some 232 mock exposures were identified. As of 10:50 a.m., 122 of these individuals had gone through the clinic. Call-in hotlines have been set up and all local hospitals were contacted and made aware of potential cases that might come in.


The planning for the mock outbreak of pneumonic plague in the Pittsburg County area has been so successful that the epidemiological efforts are far ahead of schedule, according to local officials. One source noted that the McAlester community has responded extremely well. Local Boy Scouts have been on the scene and are finishing up their triage efforts. As of 10:45 a.m., 9,300 medications have been distributed and health officials are looking forward to reaching their goal of treating 11,000 persons by early this afternoon.


In Comanche County, the tabletop exercise is in progress and there have been successful efforts to identify the disease, in this case, a mock outbreak of botulism. There has been close coordination between local, state and national resources. The local medical establishments have established a system of active surveillance and interviews have been conducted. Health officials are currently involved in an effort to establish the source of the mock infection.


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