In 1995, President Bush issued Presidential Decision Directive 39 (PDD 39). PDD 39 outlined national anti-terrorism policies and provided the basis for improving the ability of laboratories to detect and respond to acts of terrorism.
In August of 1999, the Laboratory Response Network (LRN) was established as a mandate of Presidential Decision Directive 39. The LRN was founded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The DSHS laboratory designated one microbiologist as a bioterrorism coordinator who would have the primary responsibility for responding to biological threats in Texas.
In September 2001, letters containing weapons grade Anthrax were sent to Florida, New York City, and Washington DC; 22 people were infected and five died. A state public health laboratory, also an LRN member, was the first laboratory to detect Bacillus anthracis as the causative agent. LRN’s around the country tested more than 125,000 samples. Texas was challenged to test more than 2,100 environmental specimens in three months.
In October 2001, Governor Perry established a Task force on Homeland Security. In addition, funds for Emergency Preparedness increased from the Federal Government resulting in the formation of the DSHS laboratory Emergency Preparedness Team, which consisted of four team members.
In 2005 the Emergency Preparedness Team became the Emergency Preparedness Branch and currently employees 15 Team Members.