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City Health Officials Find Gaps in Smallpox Knowledge
Allentown Morning Call; B11
Wlazelek, Ann


Health officials in Allentown, Pa., are preparing for the possibility of a bioterrorist attack with smallpox, even though it is unlikely that a case will appear there. The smallpox vaccine given some 30 years ago still offer some protection. Allentown Health Director Barbara Stader said, although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers a person "unimmunized" if the vaccine was received more than three years ago. She said that overall, the disease kills one of every three people, but only a few strains of the virus are 100 percent fatal. Health officials conducted a mock smallpox emergency in April with 45 public health, medical, law enforcement and social service representatives through which gaps in knowledge about the disease and how to contain it were revealed. As a result, local bioterrorism task force members distributed educational materials on the subject, and another health drill will be conducted in September.

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