RALEIGH … North Carolina will receive more than $26 million to spend on efforts to protect the state against bioterrorism, according to Sen. John Edwards.

The funds are part of $2.9 billion approved by Congress last year to start the nation’s defenses against bioterrorism.

Under the spending formula, North Carolina will receive a total of $26.3 million for bioterrorism defense. In January, North Carolina received the initial installment of $5.2 million. The largest installment of the funding, $19.5 million, was released Thursday after the U.S. Health and Human Services Department approved the state’s comprehensive plan for bioterrorism defense. The final $1.55 million will be released in the near future after further HHS review.

In addition, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill received $1 million as one of 15 national centers to prepare public health workers for potential bioterrorist attacks.

The funding will help North Carolina upgrade and expand detection of infectious diseases, readiness of hospital systems to deal with large numbers of casualties, capacity of public health laboratories and communication between hospitals and health officials.