Arkansas Ill Prepared for Pandemic, Bioterror Attack

DECEMBER 13, 2006 - Posted at 8:03 a.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK (AP) - Arkansas is in the lower tier when it comes to states' preparedness for bird flu, health emergencies and bioterrorism.

A report issued yesterday by the group Trust for America's Health, found that Kansas and Oklahoma were the most prepared.

The report surveyed ten factors, including whether states have sufficient hospital space, vaccines and workers in case of a pandemic or disaster. The report gave Arkansas a score of five out of ten.

Arkansas also was below the national median in terms of pneumonia vaccinations for residents 65 and older, and the report says the state's electronic tracking of disease outbreaks isn't up to par.

Arkansas was among 40 states and Washington, DC, that had a shortage of public nurses, and the state was one of six that saw cuts to its public health budget between fiscal years 2004-05 and 2005-06, the report said.

Along with Arkansas, states that scored five out of ten were: Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Washington D-C., Maine, Ohio, Pennsylvania and South Carolina.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)