Medical professionals along the Texas-Mexico border are learning how to detect new infectious diseases and even possible cases of bio-terrorism through a project led by the University of Texas School of Public Health here in Houston.
The program is part of a larger effort, known at La Frontera, to teach doctors and others along the border how to recognize emerging infectious diseases. Using training courses and workshops, medical professionals in the Rio Grande Valley are learning how to spot rare diseases like smallpox and the avian flu.
Dr. Joseph McCormick is an epidemiologist and dean of the University of Texas School of Public Health’s Brownsville Campus. He says the Valley is especially vulnerable to new or altered forms of infectious disease.
The $1 million project is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Texas Department of State Health Services.
McCormick says people don’t want to think about the possibilities when it comes to bioterrorism and the project is a way to let them know it can happen and what to do if it does.
More than 150 health professionals are gathering in the Valley this week for a conference on the issue of bioterrorism, including doctors, nurses and other public safety workers.