Anthrax Scares Expose Weakness In Ohio Lab System

AKRON, Ohio (AP) - The Ohio Health Department tested more than 1,600 samples for anthrax in an eight-week period last fall, inundating the department's Columbus lab.

At the height of the anthrax scare, Akron health officials were tracking an outbreak of the diarrhea-causing shigella bacteria in day-care centers. The anthrax test was the state's priority, however, which left the Akron department with 200 lab samples that couldn't be processed.

Dr. C. William Keck said that experience showed how weak Ohio's public health system is when a medical crisis hits. Keck is the director of the Akron health department. He and other officials said that the lab shortage needs to be addressed before Ohio is faced with an epidemic or bioterrorism scare.

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