It seems like a scene out of the history books. A young man out in the field tending his livestock kills a marmot to cook for his supper and is bitten by a flea that is native to that region. The young herdsman grows deathly ill and is taken to the nearest medical facility where he soon dies. He was only 15 years of age. Healthcare officials tending to the unfortunate male soon discovered the cause of death was Yersinia Pestis (Y.Pestis), also known in the history books as the Bubonic Plague or Black Death. But this story did not come from the history books; in fact this story just happened very recently in the small village located on the border of China and Kyrgyzstan near scenic Issyk-Kul Lake, a popular tourist destination. According to medical officials in the region there were total of 162 people who knew the young shepherd from his village and they had all been placed under close observation and were then given antibiotics as a precaution.
To try to stem fears of a major outbreak similar to that of the Black Death from the middle ages, doctors had sent more than 300 medics into the tourist area to offer check-ups and educate the locals on the outbreak. Authorities also set up check points and quarantine zones but insist that there was no cause for alarm. Kyrgyzstan released a statement that the incident “…does not carry any real threat to the epidemiological situation for neighboring countries or residents of Kyrgyzstan”. This has done little to calm the fears of many in the region. Several sports teams from Kazakhstan and Mongolia voiced their concerns about competing in the area and many in the surrounding region were wrongfully informed that the entire country was placed under quarantine causing them to make plans not to attend or cancel any games that were scheduled to be played near the village. Neighboring Russian health official reported that bacterial infection of the strain that once caused the Black Death have been registered in Kazakhstan every year and the disease has been known to occur naturally in parts of the region that encompasses Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Russia. It would seem this statement would do very little in confidence building for tourism for this region.
To date, a international team of Scientific Investigators searching for the cause of the Black Death have been able to trace the earliest cases of Bubonic Plague (Black Death) back to the Asian continent thanks in part to the scientific advances in investigating ancient DNA. There, scientist have been able to build a genetic “family tree” of sorts, going back to a common ancestor some 2,600 years ago originating in mainland China. So it was no coincidence that in 2009, there was report of an outbreak of plague case in the remote town of Ziketan, Qinghai province where a 32 year old male herdsman (that’s right, another herdsman) developed fever and hemoptysis, a condition where blood is coughed up or expelled through coughing. He died en route to the nearest hospital. 11 people who had close contact with him soon developed fever and cough. All tested positive for Plague. A couple of days later two of the 11 who were closely related to the livestock attendant had died as well. Within days authorities had been able to isolate 332 close contacts and kept them under close medical observation, Of the 11 infected who were close to the herdsman 7 were able to recover without incident and two others had experienced more severe symptoms. Chinese authorities immediately implemented traffic controls around the affected regions and experts in disease control and prevention had been dispatched.
It would seem China is no stranger to understanding how important first response is in containing Bio – threat outbreaks. There is no way to truly access how many lives have been spared due to their fast acting and due diligence in being able to identify, control and contain what could have easily have become a horrific globally catastrophic outbreak. Early identification of these threats is the key to prevention and containment. When the added threat of bio-terrorism is brought into play, the idea of a mass outbreak taking out large numbers of the human population presents a serious game change. The need for all countries globally to have preparedness protocols in place in order to contain and eradicate biological threats becomes essential to the overall survival of the human race. If you take into account that mass transit and communication now has all people connected on a global scale, an uncontrolled outbreak in one country could spell serious trouble for other countries not properly prepared to handle uncontrolled biological threats on a massive scale. Factor in that China alone is one of the most densely populated countries on the planet with an estimated 1.352 billion people accounted for in the year 2012, both their need and ability to respond quickly and effectively to a bio-threat is a very admirable feat of engineering and their extraordinary level of preparedness deserves to be commended.
Any biological threat poses a great risk to the world has a whole, even more so than that of Nuclear or Chemical weapons combined. Just how serious can this threat really be? One only has to do the math to see just how serious a risk the world is facing. Take a look at the following estimates on lives lost using just one of these threats …
Dispersal of Chemicals such as Sarin Gas by a single aircraft … 400 – 800 approximate deaths
Recent events in Syria can attest to these numbers.
Dispersal of Anthrax by a single aircraft … 420,000 – 1,400,000 approximate deaths
Hydrogen Bomb 1.0 Megatons TNT equivalent 570,000 – 1,900,000 approximate deaths
Atomic Bomb 12.5 kilotons TNT equivalent approximate deaths 23,000 – 80,000 approximate deaths
Scud Missile carrying 300 kg of Sarin Gas 60 -100
Scud Missile carrying 30 kg Anthrax 30,000 – 100,000
What is not made clear in this report is whether they take into account the spread of a biological agent if it should be able to breach the containment barriers if any, that are setup upon discovery of the initial outbreak. With mass amounts of people traveling throughout the globe by plane, train, ship or car, one person who had become infected can easily infect 20 more individuals who then can infect 20 more. So it becomes very possible for a terrorist in one country trying to harm an enemy in another country to in fact sign their own death warrant as well as those living in their own country simply because they failed to take into consideration the spread of such an outbreak and the possibilities of a containment breach. The World Health Organization estimates the spread of an infectious disease can happen from point to another in less then 36 hours.
Suddenly one herdsman infected with the plague and meeting his demise in what many may assume to be an isolated part of the world takes on a greater significance when viewed from the wide lens of bio-logical threats and bio-terrorism acts. The best arsenal against such threats is simply expecting, planning, and proper preparedness protocols that have been setup well in advance of the terrorist threat. Once these protocols are in place, what could have become a biological Armageddon type event is mercifully turned into a little regarded and soon to be forgotten back page news item. One of the keys to developing and preparing an effective protocol towards bio-threat prevention and planning is having the proper training and tools available that give first responders the ability to rapidly detect with confidence the type of threat being deployed. AdVnt Biotechnologies, LLC is proud to be producers of some of these most highly regarded bio-warfare threat detection systems in the world. Using advanced gene focused detection systems to develop tests that can rapidly detect targeted environmental bio-threats such as Anthrax, Ricin, Botulinum, Plague, SEB and Tularemia in as little as 15 minutes of testing, AdVnt Biotechnologies is proud to state that our tests have become a viable and reliable tool in the war against bio-terrorism. Used globally, AdVnt Biotechnologies BADD and Pro-Strips bio-warfare agent detection tests are easy to use and have been field tested time and time again since 2002.
The other key ingredient to bio-warfare preparedness, training is also essential to the success of any mission. In response to this, AdVnt Biotechnologies has develop an easy to understand system designed for a classroom environment that is outstanding in helping to prepare new recruits in getting the hands on experience helpful in bio-warfare detection out in the field by providing a way to give them hands on preparation in the safety of a classroom setting. Our ATTAK Pro-Strip training system comes with simulated powders and liquids and easy to follow training test to help create a simulated attack allowing new recruits the ability to become mentally and intellectually ready for a real-time, bio-terror event. AdVnt Biotechnologies has been on the frontlines of the fight against bio-terrorism and now has taken our expertise in the bio-threat arena to assist the homeowner with the development of the INFORMANT 15-Minute Black Mold Detection Test. Based on the same technology that made it possible to detect bio-warfare agents, The INFORMANT is designed to quickly and accurately assess another type of bio-threat that can be growing in your own home.