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Posted: November 01, 2001

Blanck To Lead Texas Medical Association’s New Task Force On Bioterrorism

FORT WORTH, Texas— The Texas Medical Association has appointed Ronald Blanck, DO, president of the University of North Texas Health Science Center and former surgeon general of the U.S. Army, to chair its new Task Force on Bioterrorism.

“Recent news stories prove that Texas physicians must be ready to recognize, diagnose, and treat numerous unfamiliar biological and chemical agents,” Texas Medical Association President Tom B. Hancher, MD, said. “It is our association’s public duty to educate and prepare physicians for the kind of attack we all pray we’ll never have to face.”

“Physicians clearly must be in the forefront of dealing with bioterrorism,” Dr. Blanck said. “Texas is fortunate to have all the expertise necessary, and then some, to provide physicians with the information they need to counsel patients, be part of efforts to prepare, and of course to be aware of the possible presence of these diseases.”

Fernando Treviño, PhD, MPH, dean and professor of the health science center’s School of Public Health, will join Dr. Blanck as a member of the task force.

Drs. Hancher and Blanck said the task force will provide solid recommendations on how individual physicians and the entire medical community can better prepare to respond to a bioterrorism attack. Much of the group’s work will involve pulling together and coordinating existing resources and making them more widely available.

The task force will collate and provide individual physicians with information such as:

  • What physicians should look for and what they should do to help a patient who may have been exposed to a biological or chemical weapon;
  • How and where to report suspected outbreaks of diseases such as anthrax, smallpox, plague and botulism;
  • What physicians should tell their patients who are concerned about bioterrorism attacks;
  • How physicians should respond if they are asked to look at a possible act of bioterrorism; and
  • Where physicians can obtain additional scientific information on bioterrorism, such as on the Internet, via satellite programming, or in community-based continuing medical education programs.

In looking at the larger picture, the task force will:

  • Inventory the capacity of the state’s public health infrastructure to deal with bioterrorism or terrorism acts;
  • Identify effective community response systems that could be replicated in other communities; and
  • Coordinate its efforts with other public safety task forces or working groups that are investigating bioterrorism.

The Texas Medical Association is the largest state medical society in the nation, representing more than 37,000 physician and medical student members. It is located in Austin and has 119 component county medical societies around the state. TMA's key objective is to improve the health of all Texans.

If you are with the media and need additional information or would like to arrange an interview,
please contact Jeff Carlton, Director of Media Relations, at 817-735-7630.


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