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As follow-up to the NHPF's February 1999 session entitled "Biological Terrorism: Is the Health Care Community Prepared?" the Forum organized a site visit on October 4 and 5, 1999, to Baltimore and Fort Detrick, Maryland. The site visit provided federal congressional and agency staff with the opportunity to learn first-hand how one local area is preparing for the possibility of a bioterrorist incident. Several themes were stressed throughout the two days, including the following: distinguishing bioterrorism from chemical terrorism, understanding the relationships between various agencies and institutions and their related funding streams, determining how the federal government can be most effective and efficient in assisting those at the local level, identifying preparedness gaps and barriers to changes, suggesting areas where the public health and medical communities — the nation's first lines of defense in the event of a bioterrorist incident — can come together to enhance their preparedness efforts.

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