Web Zap*Germs Archive

October 01, 2005

Doctors Turning Detectives to Nab Bioterrorists

The anthrax-in-the-mail scare of 2001 -- which killed at least one person and hospitalized others -- prompted the FBI to form a group of medical and law-enforcement pros to develop ways to collect evidence of bioterrorism.

Beyond the usual tissue and blood samples, doctors are now being urged to save the clothing and other evidence from victims of possible bioterror attacks. Beyond bioterror, though, there have already been criminal cases involving dastardyly uses of microbes.

The need for instructing those who investigate real or suspected "biocrime" scenes is real, according to one prosecutor.

"I'm not sure our law enforcement is sophisticated enough to recognize a (microbial) crime," Rock Harmon, an Alameda County, CA prosecutor who is a member of the FBI committee, told the Associated Press. "They probably just dump the evidence in the drain."

Get more information from a fascinating article by Steven E. Schutzer, et al, titled Biocrimes, Microbial Forensics, and the Physician posted at


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