U.S. Unprepared for Bioterrorism, Expert Says

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Laurie Garrett: They would be moving around. Smallpox tends to be extremely contagious, so that the typical infected individual, if not immediately isolated, will expose somewhere between ten and 20 other individuals. So you're looking at a multiplier effect right away. Now, if you don't even know you're infected and even after you develop a fever, you're thinking it's the flu. And in our society people tend to be such workaholics that even with the flu they go to the office anyway then, in a densely populated city you could in a week be looking at thousands of cases. And the question would be, can it be contained in any geographic space?

Tom Foreman: You cover this all the time; have been around it for years. Don't you ever say that you are at an unusually high level of risk? Do you ever fear that?

Laurie Garrett: I take commonsense precautions, as should all of your viewers. What is common sense? Well, it's latex gloves if you're interacting with someone who has a contact-contagious disease. It's not sharing glasses and utensils. It's a mask, a classic, you can get it at the drugstore, a surgical mask. Wash your hands.

Tom Foreman: And yet you suggest that antibacterial soap, which so many people think is the great panacea, may not be.

Laurie Garrett: It's absurd! It's absurd if you're not in an actual contact situation. The worst thing you can do is overuse any anti-microbial substance, whether it's overusing antibiotics or overusing antiseptic soaps, because all you're doing is encouraging the emergence of drug-resistant strains.

Tom Foreman: How much do we, as a nation, need to get rid of sort of the hype and the false sense of security that comes from such things?

Laurie Garrett: The biggest danger is the American psyche…and it's different from almost anywhere else in the world.

Inside Base Camp's Tom Foreman on Work, Guests

Presidents and prisoners; scientists and soldiers; the heroic and the hated—all have sat down with National Geographic Channel Senior Anchor Tom Foreman as he has traveled the globe for the past 25 years. Starting out in small town radio in Alabama, he progressed through local television to join ABC Network News when he was 30. For a decade he covered virtually every major news story for World News Tonight, Nightline, 20/20 and Good Morning America.

Now, as host and managing editor of the Emmy Award-winning Inside Base Camp with Tom Foreman, he brings his years of experience—and dozens of riveting guests—to the National Geographic Channel at 12:30 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, and Sundays at 11:00 a.m.

As the show's name implies, Foreman asks the intimate, revealing questions that cut to core of the passions that drive his guests.

Read an interview with Tom Foreman>>

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