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National Model For New Warning System Named
August 2, 2010

North Carolina will serve as the national model for a new system to detect the earliest signs of an impending bioterrorism attack and provide warnings in time to minimize damage to human and animal life as well as the environment.

The model, called North Carolina Bio-Preparedness Collaborative (NCB-Prepared), will alert health officials and practitioners within hours of symptom outbreaks that might indicate a bioterrorist attack, threat of disease, food-borne illness or other threats to public health and safety.

The congressionally funded one-year, $5 million project is a cooperative agreement between the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Initial collaborators include UNC-Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University and SAS Institute. The effort includes participation of the N.C. Division of Public Health and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Durham, as well as others from the public and private sectors.

NCB-Prepared will draw on a wide array of human health data (such as physician’s clinical notes, electronic hospital records, school nurse logs, prescription databases and over-the-counter medication sales) and information from the rest of the biosphere (such as animal health records, air quality measurements and food safety data). Using advanced analytical programs, the project aims to detect a public health threat long before it would surface in traditional disease surveillance systems.

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