Scientists man bioterror front lines post-9/11

LIVERMORE, Calif. (AP) ? The aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks and the 2001 anthrax scare has seen an increase in efforts to guard against bioterror threats.

A system known as Biowatch was created by government researchers as an airborne pathogen early warning system. It is now deployed in about 30 cities across the country.

The program is designed to alert authorities of a release of deadly germs even before patients start showing up sick.

This would allow affected areas to be evacuated, and potentially infected people could get drugs and vaccines.

Researcher Tom Slezak says that to keep potential terrorists from dodging Biowatch’s defenses, officials keep secret how many detectors monitor the air in each city, what the detectors look like and how many different pathogens they guard against. But he says the system covers about 80 percent of the U.S. population.