PULLMAN, Wash. — The two-headed calves and grossly enlarged animal skulls mounted on the walls of the Washington State University veterinary hospital are known as monsters, but they are not the type that keep scientists here awake at night.
The researchers are much more worried about plague, E. coli, anthrax or other deadly agents that terrorists could use to kill Americans or destroy the nation’s food supply.
The WSU College of Veterinary Medicine is on the front lines of the war on terrorism, part of a nationwide early warning system to detect if bioterrorists have struck the United States.
While it may not be as dramatic as flying jetliners into buildings, or taking over a school, bioterrorism has the potential to kill far more people, WSU officials said.
“Our society is so removed from large outbreaks of disease in animals or food, it’s hard to imagine it,” said Charlie Powell, spokesman for the veterinary school.