Bio-Terrorism Office Chief Steps Down

The Office of Public Health Preparedness will be run by New York City's former director of emergency management.

by / May 6, 2002
WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) -- The man who led the campaign to rid the world of smallpox is stepping down as head of the campaign to protect Americans from bio terrorism.

Donald Henderson is being succeeded as director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness by Jerome Hauer -- one of his former students at Johns Hopkins University. Hauer was chief of New York City's emergency management under former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

The federal office was created in October during the anthrax-by-mail attacks. The government saw the need for a coordinated defense against the range of biological terror threats -- including the risk that the smallpox virus Henderson had helped confine to the laboratory could come back to haunt the world.

Henderson's fight against smallpox on behalf of the World Health Organization was won in 1977 and made him a hero in public health circles.

Henderson had agreed when taking over the office to stay as chief for six months, Tommy Thompson, the health and human services secretary, said Friday in announcing the switch in directors.

He said Henderson will continue to serve as his principal scientific adviser on bio terrorism and chairman of the secretary's council on public health preparedness.

In launching the office, Henderson aimed to help cities develop plans for vaccinating and distributing antibiotics to large numbers of people, create regional laboratories capable of handling bio-terrorist material and put together around-the-clock reporting systems between hospital emergency rooms and state health departments, among other goals.

Such work will be carried on by Hauer, and Thompson credited him with creating the country's first bio-terrorism response plan while he served as New York City's director of emergency management.

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