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Blog posts tagged with 'cbrne'

Sinking Teeth Into The Mysteries of Plague

Two plague victims in Aschheim-Bajuwarenring cemetery in Bavaria, Germany who died some 1500 years ago have been unearthed and are able to help provide an international team of scientists with a better understanding the type of virus that was responsible for their deaths sometime between 541 and 543. Thanks to the dental remains of these two unearthed plague victims, researchers using very sophisticated methods were able to extract DNA fragments of plague from the teeth from the skeletal remains and reconstruct the genome of what is now the oldest pathogen obtained to date. Yersinia Pestis or Y. Pestis is also known as plague. This bacterium was found to be responsible for the Justinian outbreak and the results showed that this was unique and distinct from various other strains that would later become the Black Death and other plague pandemics that would follow.

“This study raises intriguing questions about why a pathogen that was both so successful and so deadly suddenly died out. One testable possibility is that human populations evolved to become less susceptible,” says Edward Holmes, an NHMRC Australia Fellow at the University of Sydney.

Up until now little has been known about the exact cause of the Justinian epidemic’s origins or cause. The Justinian plague is thought to have been instrumental in bringing about the end of the Roman Empire and was, until the recent findings were too discover, responsible for the Black Death. The Justinian Plague is believed to have killed 30 to 50 million people, estimated to have been at least half of the world’s population at that time. Later the Black Death would emerge to ravage the medieval population killing 50 million Europeans between 1347 and 1351 some 800 years later. These recent findings now show that the Justinian plague was a unrelated strain from the plague that caused the Black Death.

The new results that are published in online edition of The Lancet Infectious Disease, show that the Justinian Plague was a distinct and separate genome of the same Pathogen know as Yersinia Pestis and not an evolutionary forefather or related to the same Yersinia Pestis strains responsible for the Black Death. Another pandemic that had taken hold in Hong Kong and spread across the globe is now more likely to be considered the precursor to the Black Death.

These findings would suggest that the Justinian pandemic strain also originated in Asia and not in Africa as some scientist originally thought. This would lead them to theorize that earlier epidemics, such as the Plague of Athens (430 BC) and the Antoine Plague (165 – 180 AD) may have also been unique and distinct emergence of related Yersinia Pestis strains.

“We know the bacterium Y. Pestis has jumped from rodents into humans throughout history and rodent reservoirs of plague still exist today in many parts of the world. If the Justinian plague could erupt in the human population, cause a massive pandemic, and then die out, it suggest it could happen again. Fortunately we now have antibiotics that could be used to effectively treat plague, which lessens the chances of another large scale human pandemic” says Dave Wagner, an associate professor in the Center for Microbial Genetics and Genomics at Northern Arizona University.

These studies would suggest that the threat of an outbreak of Yersinia Pestis can occur at any time now, or in the future, is quite possible. Add to this, the possibility of some individual or person intent to using the pathogen as a weapon to wreck terror on an unsuspecting population raises the stakes even higher. New technologies are now available to health and safety teams in the early detection of such possible natural outbreaks and first responders now have the capabilities to be able to equip themselves with the latest tools required to easily and reliably detect not only Yersinia Pestis, but other possible pathogens that could be used as weapons against humanity. This ability to provide early detection is essential in containing and maintaining control of a terrorist planned outbreak and is crucial to preventing another full scale global population pandemic such as those seen in the past.

One of the biggest breakthroughs in rapid and reliable early detection of pathogens that can be utilized against terrorist is the BADD line of bio-warfare detection tests produced by AdVnt Biotechnologies LLC. Developed in response to the white powder incidents that occurred after 9/11, the tests were used in the detection of bio-warfare pathogens during the Iraq War. This line of tests gave first responders the ability to arrive at a possible bio-threat scene and test for powders and liquids left by suspected terrorist and ascertain within 15-minutes or less if the material held the potential of becoming a cause of wide spread contamination. This rapid testing with their on-the-scene detection capabilities helped to open windows of opportunities for immediate containment and control of a possible pandemic. AdVnt Biotechnologies was also the first to revolutionize the hand held assays when they were the first to develop a testing platform that allows for the collection of one suspicious sample of unknown origin to be tested against multiple targets on one detection test cassette. In the not too distant past, responders would have to collect up to 5 samples and run 5 tests one at a time to discover what active agent provided the danger of contamination. If there was very little or sparse material left behind, the residue would have to be sent off site to be examined while the clock was ticking. With the invention of AdVnt Biotechnologies ground breaking PS-5T Pro-Strip multi-agent rapid screening system, for the first time, responders have the ability to hit five different targets from one collected bio-threat sample. Saving time, saving resources, saving lives.

Return of the Black Death

It may sound like a campy title to a old Hammer Film Horror Movie but unfortunately it’s real and it’s more common then you may think.

According to a article posted by Reuters on July 25, a Squirrel was found at the Angeles National Forest in California that was infected with the Plague. This has been the sixth squirrel located in Southern California’s San Gabriel Mountains since 1995 to test positive for the disease.

Authorities have shut down the park for at least a week while they have a chance to dust the burrows for fleas, which carry the bacteria and test more squirrels in the area. The most recent squirrel was trapped on July 16 during a routine check in the park and was confirmed to be carrying the disease on July 23.

Called the “Black Death” in history books due to the disease ravaging the European continent during the Middle Ages. Yersina Pestis (aka Y. Pestis) also known as Plague was responsible for killing more the 25 million people.

There on on average 7 cases a year that are reported in the United States and if discovered within a timely manner can be treated with antibiotics. According to the Center Disease for Control, almost all cases have been found in the Western United States and fortunately at this time none of these cases have been fatal.

Y. Pestis, Anthrax, Botulinum, Staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB) and Tularemia along with Ricin Toxin among others are currently under the Dept. of Homeland Security radar since they are all good candidates for being developed into a weapon that can be used by terrorist. As a result several protocols have been put into place to rapidly detect and deter such a horrific act form happening and putting plans in to play to dramatically minimize the event should one occur.

AdVnt Biotechnologies has been helping First Responders throughout the globe by offering a reliable, rapid and portable solution to the early detection of a bio-terror event with our line of BADD Single Agent Detection Test and Pro-Strip Rapid Screening System. Thanks to advancements in the area of Immunoassay Bio-Technology, Safety Professionals responding to a Bio-Terror threat event will have the tools they need to rapidly and accurately detect if the suspected agent involved is real emergency or a badly planned hoax, allowing them to put into place all the necessary safeguards that will be needed in order to contain and control such an event.

 

FBI Investigates Newest Anthrax Inhalation Exposure Case in US.

Government health officials have investigated a case of anthrax exposure after tests confirmed that a hospitalized individual had been infected with the dangerous bacteria; due to the deadly nature of anthrax and its feared use as a biological weapon back in 2001-02, the FBI joined Minnesota health officials in the investigation.

At least fourteen people died in 2002 in the last instances of undeniable anthrax terrorism in the USA.

Officials have concluded that the hospitalized individual became infected naturally after encountering the “non-weaponized” bacteria during his travels. The individual had travelled through several western states before becoming admitted for treatment in Minnesota.

An epidemiologist with the state, concluded that “Evidence points to this case of anthrax being caused by exposure to naturally occurring anthrax in the environment.”

What kind of a generalized, non-descriptive statement is this? Yes, it seems re-assuring in some sense, however, if the hearer had any understanding of how difficult this in fact is to occur, that being inhalation infection, you would be scratching your head, as we are.

I suppose this statement is made in hopes of assuring us that this was not a successful domestic terrorist attack utilizing highly concentrated weaponized anthrax. In such an instance there would be a large amount of suspicious white powder and some broadcast by a radicalized group taking responsibility for the terror evoking event.

In this instance, the individual had been exposed to soil and animal remains where the anthrax bacteria can easily be grown. The bacteria is known to develop in hooved animal carcasses each year in certain areas around the world.

The FBI determined that there was no evidence to suggest that the individual was infected as part of a criminal or terrorist act and the agency is no longer actively investigating the incident.

Health officials were careful to note that the public need not worry about potential anthrax exposure as these cases are extremely rare, unless you come in contact with the infectious source.

Health officials stressed that the case does not represent an increased risk of anthrax for the public. “Anthrax is not spread from person to person, and it is extremely rare for humans to become sickened with anthrax, especially through inhalation,” an official reported.

Only in rare cases do individuals become infected with anthrax by handling infected animal carcasses or ingest contaminated soil or meat from infected animals. People can also become infected by handling contaminated wool or hides from infected animals.

If this un-suspecting victim would have known about the world’s most effective hand-held anthrax detection device, AdVnt Biotechnologies’ “BADD” Anthrax environmental detection screening device, they would have known in less than fifteen (15) minutes that they were exposed to an infectious dose of the deadly bacteria. They could have saved their own life!

So consider, for your own personal safety and security, if you are going to be placed in harm’s way maybe being prepared and ready to screen for this deadly bacteria or a deadly toxin, like Botulinum or Ricin the technology exists today for less than $300. USD.

For a clear and concise understanding of the significance of this one event, I would draw attention to an article of some importance. “Pathogenic Ecology: Where have all the pathogens gone? Anthrax: A Classic Case.”

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History of Biowarfare Part III - Now For Something Completely Horrific

From a historical perspective, anthrax is probably the most widely used bio-threat known to humans. Some scholars now believe it to be the nasty soot “morain”, spoken of in the book of Exodus and may also be considered a likely candidate for the “burning wind of plague” that begins Homer’s Illad. Anthropologists have recently determined that Yersina Pestis is without a doubt the plague virus behind the Black Death. If these accusations are correct then its’ safe to say anthrax might be the most well recorded bio-threat to date.

As a weapon, anthrax lives up to its reputation. Those infected with the substance will develop ulcerative puss filled lesions; severe respiratory infections and death within two to three days in most cases. The victims also become infectious to those close to them allowing this nasty toxin to spread like wildfire. Anthrax is a bacterium and can become dormant in the ground in a spore type state for long periods of time before springing back to life and re-infecting all over again. In this regard it is not much different then a mold or fungus.

The use of anthrax bacteria in ancient military campaigns as been recorded going back to biblical times. Some barbarians stooped so low as to use the diseased bodies of its’ victims to poison wells and food supplies, and even to catapult them over the walls of fortified cities under siege. In this century combatants on all sides of conflict carried out the military use of anthrax during World War I. By the time we get to World War II, biowarfare becomes actively financed by government officials who, taking a lesson from history, begin to seek out more advanced ways to exploit deadly toxin and other forms of bio-threats inert potency. Reports are said to prove that allied efforts in Canada, the United States, and Britain sought to develop anthrax-based weapons against Germany, but apparently this was never fully realized.

The growing concern for a substance like anthrax being used on heavily populated areas today is nothing to be taken with a grain of salt. When United Nations inspector’s toured Iraq’s bio-weapons facilities after the Gulf War, they discovered, according to some sources, that the Iraqi’s reportedly had produced up to 10,000 liters of bio-weapons grade anthrax, though some dispute this claim. But a sobering reality of the potential of an attack surfaced when the Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo, the same peace-loving group who was responsible for releasing Sarin gas in the Tokyo Subway system, was later discovered to have been close to developing anthrax-based weapons. This group was seeking nothing less then total world domination. Yes, you read that correctly … “Total World Domination“.

After the anthrax attack that followed five days after 9/11, killing five people and infecting 17 others, it became apparent that the best way for a nation to defend itself from such threats was to create a level of preparedness that would limit the impact of this type of terrorist tactic or eliminate the threat completely. It was then determined that one of the most important factors in limiting this kind of damage by such a heinous act would be in the timing that it would take to identify the what type of biological threats were involved. This information would allow first responders to make rapid and reliable decisions that could mean the difference between saving millions of lives vs. the unthinkable horror of a wide spread plague that could devastate vast numbers of a population. The solution to this dilemma of rapid detection and response would be found in the science of biotechnology.

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In order for first responders to know what bio-threat was being presented to them upon receiving that first call to quickly contain the situation, they would require some sort of device that could identify the biological threat as close to the moment of it’s first outbreak as possible. Up until 9/11 no such device existed that could adequately be labeled as rapid detection. The answer to this problem would come in the form of a device known as a chromatographic immunoassay, also known as a hand held assay (HHA). One of the first and best of this kind of test to hit the market was called the BADD single detection test, this test would then later evolve into a multi-threat detection test called the Pro-Strip, allowing for the first time, one test that would give a first responder the ability to read up to 5 threats (Anthrax, Botulinum, Plague, Ricin and SEB toxins) with just one revolutionary device. Created by researches at AdVnt Biotechnologies in Phoenix AZ. these two devices are still being used by military, first response teams and CBRNE teams worldwide due in large part to the consistent reliability, ease of use and cost effective dependability.

As horrific as it must have been to be on the receiving end of bio-terrorism in times past, new, current technologies now exist today that was not available during the times past. With the threat of biological attacks growing more realistic, the likelihood that a highly trained and prepared first response team will have the capabilities to move in quickly, ascertain the situation with rapid, reliable knowledge of the threat involved, downgrade the event from the potential wide spread catastrophe to a much limited and highly contained incident is far more plausible now then at any time in the history of the world.

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UK Reports: WMD Terror Strike on Major City ‘More Realistic’

May 2009

Terrorists attacking a major city with nuclear or biological weapons is “more realistic” than ever, British officials warned as they lifted the secrecy from six years of counter-terrorism efforts.

Called “Contest,” the U.K. anti-terror strategy contends that new technologies and lawless nations boost the odds of a WMD attack leading to massive death and destruction.

Titled “Pursue, Protect, Prevent, Prepare: The United Kingdom’s Strategy for Countering International Terrorism,” the 176-page report presents an updated British strategy for combating terrorism.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith describes Contest as “one of the most comprehensive and wide-ranging approaches to tackling terrorism anywhere in the world.”

Dr. Marvin Cetron, the futurist and founder of Forecasting International, a firm that advises U.S. counter-terrorism agencies, reports that British authorities have every reason to be concerned.

“The terrorists are getting better qualified, more technically trained people as we’ve seen in Britain,” Cetron says. “And they’re trying to get the capability. They’re still working on getting nuclear fissionable material. That’s a low probability, but it is a high-impact event.”

Since 2001, the report reveals, British authorities have thwarted over a dozen terrorist attacks. One measure of officials’ concern: U.K authorities have trained and equipped over 7,000 police officers to respond to WMD incidents. They have also built facilities for mass decontamination’s, should a WMD attack occur.

“Contemporary terrorist organizations aspire to use chemical, biological, radiological and even nuclear weapons,” the report states. “Changing technology and the theft and smuggling of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear and explosive (CBRNE) materials make this aspiration more realistic than it may have been in the recent past.”

A letter from Prime Minister Gordon Brown accompanying the Contest report states: “This new form of terrorism is different in scale and nature from the terrorist threats we have had to deal with in recent decades. It is intent on inflicting mass casualties without warning, motivated by a violent extremist ideology, and exploits modern travel and communications to spread through a loose and dangerous global network.”

One question counter-terror experts will no doubt be asking: Why after six years is the British government lifting the veil of secrecy over its counter-terrorism strategy and assessments?

Smith said the government seeks to “provide the people of the UK and our partners overseas with as full and as open an account as possible of why and how we are tackling this threat.”

The new report lists four main terror threats facing the U.K., all of them linked to al Qaida:

  • The current al-Qaida organization.
  • Al-Qaida-affiliated terrorist organizations.
  • “Self-starting” terror groups, or individuals, seeking to emulate an al-Qaida style attack.
  • Groups unaffiliated with al-Qaida, that, broadly speaking, have a similar agenda.According to the report, al-Qaida is under such intense pressure around the globe that it is unlikely to survive in its current form, and will likely splinter into many smaller groups. But like a hydra that sprouts multiple cells for each one killed, U.K. counterintelligence predicts the evolution of many smaller organizations — sharing a similar ideology and working toward goals similar to al-Qaida’s.The report attributes the growing danger in part to development of technologies that enable small cells of violent fundamentalists to communicate and plan.Cetron agrees that al-Qaida is breaking into smaller parts, and concurs that in many ways this complicates matters.“Al-Qaida is finding out they can do better with small groups, people who are raised in the country itself, not people who are coming from Islamic lands.” Such “home-grown” terrorists are better able to fit in, and can move freely among the local population, Cetron says.

    Also highlighting the very real danger of terrorists using WMD was the July 2007 National Intelligence Estimate stating that al-Qaida “will continue to try to acquire and employ chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear material in attacks, and would not hesitate to use them if it develops what it deems is sufficient capability.”

    The British report cites several factors it says contribute to an unprecedented level of danger from a WMD terrorist attack:

  • Unresolved regional disputes in Afghanistan, Palestine, Bosnia, Chechnya, Lebanon, and Kashmir.
  • Extremists associated with al-Qaida who tout violence as the “religious duty” of all Muslims.
  • Radicalization, or the recruitment of disaffected citizens who join terrorist groups to carry out attacks.
  • The phenomenon of failed states, which is expected to continue indefinitely.
  • The evolution of technologies “which facilitate terrorist propaganda, communications, and terrorist organizations.” Innovations by terrorists quickly spread around the globe.As an example of how terrorists are learning from other terrorists, the Contest report cites the evolution of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which were employed with brutal effect against American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.The report states IED technology “evolved rapidly in a series of conflicts over the past 15 years,” adding, “Al-Qaida, its affiliates, and groups inspired by al-Qaida have demonstrated intent to experiment with novel explosives to maximize their capabilities and, in some cases, to deliberately circumvent protective security measures.”Cetron also reports the United Kingdom is No. 1 on al-Qaida’s list of targets. “It is the prime target. France is next, Europe in general is third, and the United States is fourth on that list.”The reason England is more vulnerable? I say, consider this: They have many people, in country, who are trained and angry. This is facilitated by the zealous nature of the far left liberal version/ideology of diversity, over-the-top tolerance and political correctness which will, in the end, be the undoing of western civilizations as our enemies understand how to take advantage of this soft underbelly of our freedoms and play us like a fine Stradivarius violin. Their only chance at victory is to steal technology, use it against us and divide us on political arguments that polarize our politicans. They will need our unwitting assistance.

    Non the less, we say be prepared for the potential of a biological attak in your community. Visit Advnt.org to see how!

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    What a coincidence!!! Murtha and the Biowarfare business?

    Murtha’s Nephew Got Defense Contracts

    Millions in Work Came Without Competition

    The headquarters of Murtech, in a low-slung, bland building in a Glen Burnie business park, has its blinds drawn tight and few signs of life. On several days of visits, a handful of cars sit in the parking lot, and no trucks arrive at the 10 loading bays at the back of the building.

    Yet last year, Murtech received $4 million in Pentagon work, all of it without competition, for a variety of warehousing and engineering services. With its long corridor of sparsely occupied offices and an unmanned reception area, Murtech’s most striking feature is its owner — Robert C. Murtha Jr., 49. He is the nephew of Rep. John P. Murtha, the Pennsylvania Democrat who has significant sway over the Defense Department’s spending as chairman of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee.

    Robert Murtha said he is not at liberty to discuss in detail what his company does, but for four years it has subsisted on defense contracts, according to records and interviews. He said Murtech’s 17 employees “provide necessary logistical support” to Pentagon testing programs that focus on detecting chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats, “and that’s about as far as I feel comfortable going.” Giving more details could provide important clues to terrorist plotters, he said.

    Murtha said he does not advertise being the nephew of John Murtha and considers it “unfortunate” that some will unfairly assume Murtech received its federal contracts because of his uncle’s influence at the Pentagon.

    Coincidently, over the years, John Murtha has proudly claimed credit for using his Appropriations Committee seat to steer hundreds of millions in Pentagon work to companies in his district, many of them fledgling enterprises run by campaign contributors. His influence also may be seen in the military improvements at the Johnstown airport that bears his name. The little-used commuter airport doubles as a wartime preparedness facility for the Pentagon after $30 million in improvements.

    Murtha’s power has had beneficial effects within his family. His brother, Robert C. “Kit” Murtha, built a longtime lobbying practice around clients seeking defense funds through the Appropriations Committee and became one of the top members of KSA, a lobbying firm whose contractor clients often received multimillion-dollar earmarks directed through the committee chairman.

    Robert C. Murtha Jr. of Murtech is Kit Murtha’s son. He also is a former Marine who once served as a presidential security officer and aide to the president for White House functions. He worked for eight years for ACS, a defense and information technology contractor. When Lockheed purchased ACS in 2004, he started several companies, including Murtech, which he registered as a defense contracting firm.

    Murtech received its contracts primarily from the Army Space and Missile Defense Command in Huntsville, Ala., which has been generous to companies in John Murtha’s district and enjoys a close relationship with the congressman through a mutual interest in breast cancer research. The Army command has won at least $200 million a year in federal funding for the cancer research, of which Rep. Murtha is a stalwart supporter. In a program called Missiles to Mammograms the command has collaborated with a contractor in Murtha’s district, Windber Medical Center, in a multimillion-dollar project to explore using missile-tracking technology to detect breast cancer.

    The command awarded its first storage contract to Murtech without competitive bidding, paying $1.4 million a year. Robert Murtha Jr. says the no-bid arrangement was “the government’s choice” and occurred because the government “got itself in a bind.” A contract with SA Scientific of San Antonio was about to lapse, and the command needed Murtech, then serving as a subcontractor to the Texas company, to store materials for the military’s Critical Reagents Program. The program produces lab materials that can be used in handheld devices and sensors to detect the presence of biological toxins.

    “We were uniquely qualified because we had already been doing that work,” Murtha said.

    I find this simply amazing and adequate proof that despite all the laws, rules and regulations to discourage graft and corruption at the federal level, there are ways to circumvent these laws that apparently are just for the rest of us!

    When will enough be enough?

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    US to Face Biological Attack within Five Years

    WASHINGTON – The terrorism threat to the United States during the next five years will be driven by instability in the Middle East and Africa, persistent challenges to border security, and increasing Internet savvy, says a new intelligence assessment obtained by The Associated Press.

    Chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear attacks are considered the most dangerous threats that could be carried out against the U.S. But those threats are also the most unlikely because it is so difficult for al-Qaida and similar groups to acquire the materials needed to carry out such plots, according to the internal Homeland Security Threat Assessment for the years 2008-2013.

    As a Bioweapons industry participant for the past five years it is reassuring to see the increasing momentum and some very significant changes to “policy initiatives” by two of the leading Federal Agencies responsible for validating leading edge detection technologies becoming available in the US marketplace in 2008. These “policy changes” are actually allowing the First-Responder communities to move forward in acquiring new technologies which are expanding our country’s capabilities in preparing for the seemingly inevitable CBRNe attack that “reportably” is headed our way sometime in the next five years.

    My next post will be focused on an increasing threat, “The Coming Threat of Agri-Terrorism”.

    Thank you in advance for your interest in our country’s coming fight on our own soil. Be strong. Be prepared. Be vigilant.

    The Shadow Warrior.

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