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University of Iowa News Release

 

Release: April 10, 2007

Local Laboratorian Participates In UHL Bioterrorism Workshop

(Name), a clinical laboratorian at (facility) in (city), was one of 29 scientists who participated in the University Hygienic Laboratory's (UHL) "Identification of Bioterrorism Agents: Wet Workshop" March 27-28 at the UHL Iowa Laboratory Facility in Ankeny.

Laboratorians are skilled laboratory workers who specialize in environmental and public health.

The workshop drew laboratorians from across the state for hands-on practice in identifying, testing and packaging agents that may potentially be used in biological and chemical terrorism.

"The scientists who completed this training work in Iowa's sentinel laboratories, which are generally located in hospitals and are on the front line of detection of a biological terrorism or outbreak event," said UHL Interim Director Chris Atchison. "Through this hands-on experience in identifying and handling these agents they will be far better prepared to identify and respond to the threat of terrorism."

There are 143 sentinel laboratories in Iowa. This is the fourth year UHL has hosted the training that combines lecture and lab experience, giving scientists an opportunity to refine techniques used in collecting and handling specimens, identifying infectious substances, and notifying authorities if an agent of bioterrorism is suspected.

"Wet workshops are designed to give the clinical laboratorian hands-on experience with the identification methods for Category A organisms," explained Bonnie Rubin, UHL emergency preparedness and terrorism response coordinator. "Category A agents are those organisms and toxins that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has put as the top concerns for potential bioterrorism, including anthrax, botulism and smallpox.

"In addition to practical experience using the identification tools, laboratorians received updates about the chemical terrorism response laboratory network and information about timely issues related to emerging organisms and pandemic influenza planning," Rubin said.

NOTE TO EDITORS: Laboratorians who participated in the workshop are listed alphabetically by hometown.

IOWA

Ames: Peter Shupp, McFarland Clinic, PC; Carol Byriel and Gina Baker, both of Mary Greeley Medical Center.

Atlantic: Kelly Rutherford, Cass County Health System

Centerville: Virginia Boblenz, Mercy Medical Center

Clarion: Reina Graham and Rayne Premo, Wright Medical Center

Des Moines: Shannon O'Neill, Veterans Affairs Central Iowa Health

Care System; Kelly Huxford, Iowa Methodist; and Kathy Jennings, Iowa Methodist

Iowa City: Vicki Duensing, Mercy Hospital Laboratory

Marshalltown: Wesley Nelson, Marshalltown Medical and Surgical Center Microbiology

Missouri Valley: Melvin, Smith, Alegent Health Community Memorial Hospital

Muscatine: Alexa Wojtecki, Unity Health Care Laboratory

Newton: Mike Olesen and Amber Houseman, both from Skiff Medical Center

Osceola: Mona Parekh, Clarke County Hospital

Ottumwa: Trish Abel and Vickie Striegel, both of Collaborative Lab Services

Pella: Judy Borgerding, Pella Regional Health Center

Sioux City: Stacy McNear, Siouxland District Health

Waukon: Roberta Cunningham, Veterans Memorial Hospital

Webster City: Kriss Geis, Hamilton Hospital

Winterset: Sara Braga, Madison County Memorial Hospital

ILLINOIS

Moline: Kathy Hebbeln, Metro Medical Laboratory

STORY SOURCE:  University Hygienic Laboratory, 102 Oakdale Campus, H101 OH, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-5002

MEDIA CONTACT: Pat Blake, 319-335-4177, patricia-blake@uiowa.edu.

PHOTOGRAPHS: Photos of each individual who attended the workshop are available. Contact Pat Blake at 319-335-4177 or patricia-blake@uiowa.edu to request a photo.