Misti Crane
The Columbus Dispatch
April 3, 2010

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The detector that picked up a higher-than-normal level of the bacteria tularemia in Columbus this week is part of a nationwide air-monitoring program called BioWatch, which is designed to alert officials to biological terrorist attacks.

BioWatch includes monitors in more than 30 high-threat metropolitan areas. Until now, few people knew there were monitors in Columbus.

Local and national government agencies involved in the program would not reveal where the monitors are in central Ohio or elsewhere in the state, nor would they say where the tularemia was detected this week.

“We want to be accountable and transparent,” said a Department of Homeland Security official who spoke on the condition that his name not be used. “The conflict for us is we really don’t want our adversaries to know any of the details about how we protect ourselves.”

Columbus Public Health officials continued to emphasize yesterday that people aren’t at risk and there’s no suspicion that bioterrorism was attempted here.

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