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Blog posts tagged with 'plague'

Plague Victim raises cause for alarm in Asia

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.

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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The Long Lasting Legacy of Biowarfare

What was once known as ‘Germ Warfare’ for decades is now being termed ‘Biowarfare or Bioterrorism in keeping with the current state of affairs. Unfortunately biowarfare is not a new tactic in warfare, in fact biowarefare’s roots go way back to the ancient history of dirty warfare tactics. One example of ancient biowarfare assults can be found in the fourteenth century when Asian armies catapulted the bodies of plague victims over city walls to infect the entrapped population of a fortified city. Later, during the French and Indian Wars in the United States, a British Military officer is reported to have given unsuspecting Indians blankets infected with small pox resulting in several fatalities. The US militia are said to have continued this same tactic on the American Indians as the US expanded further into the western territories.
In Modern times, in Sverdlovsk Russia, anthrax spores were released from a military facility some 1450 km east of Moscow resulted in 100 deaths in 1979. That same year, Ricin another biological warfare toxin is said to be a preferred poison with the KGB, was used to coat the assassin’s bullet that killed Bulgarian dissident writer Georgi Markov on September 7, 1978. The use of anthrax spores as a weapon was implemented in WW II when both Japan and Great Britain tested weapons carrying anthrax spores.
The development in recent times of genetic engineering holds the grim and disturbing promise of manufactured toxins never before experienced on this planet. Genetically altering already harmful microorganisms into super harmful mutations is no longer the stuff of science fiction and comic book villains. Biological Warfare and all its’ ramifications as been with us throughout our history and promises to become more formidable as we move forward into the future.
In 2003 AdVnt biotechnologies sought to pave the way in responding to the growing threat of biowarfare by creating a rapid hand held assay that would give hazmat, and emergency first responder teams a way to identify a biowarfare agent in less then 15 minutes, giving these teams plenty of time to make important containment decisions and save the lives of millions. Thanks to this pioneering technology, a rapid, low-cost solution to biowarfare threats has been greatly diminished.
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Is Al Qaeda Seeking Weapons of Mass Destruction?

By Dr. Neil Livingstone.

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION FROM DomesticPreparedness.com

SPRING 2009

Reports surfaced in early January that approximately forty Al Qaeda members in Algeria died from plague after the deadly bacteria escaped from a surreptitious laboratory where they were attempting to weaponize the disease. Although there has been no official confirmation that that is exactly what happened, it is clear that something out of the ordinary did occur in Algeria at that time, and the reports are part of a mounting body of evidence, both circumstantial and confirmed, that Al Qaeda is attempting to acquire weapons of mass destruction – most likely, in this situation, a bio weapon.

It has long been an article of faith that the United States and its allies would get an early warning – through an accidental release or an outbreak of some unusual disease – about the possible misuse of bio agents. Accidental releases are not common, but they have occurred a number of times in the past – most notably in 1979 in the region around a Soviet biological weapons facility in Sverdlovsk, where there was an accidental anthrax release that killed 68 people. The Soviets, of course, denied not only that anthrax had caused the fatalities but also that the facility was engaged in the production of biological weapons – in contravention of the Biological Weapons Convention. The incident remained a matter of controversy during the Reagan administration, but after the fall of the Soviet Union the Russians ultimately acknowledged what happened.

After the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, the U.S. intelligence community found substantial evidence, in Afghanistan and elsewhere, that Al Qaeda was indeed working on acquiring biological weapons – and, according to the 9/11 Commission, the effort was more advanced than previously believed. Although Al Qaeda had investigated the possible use of other dangerous agents, including plague and even ebola, its more immediate goal seemed to be to create a fully stable and weaponized strain of anthrax.

Ebola, however, is a hemorrhagic fever and one of the deadliest diseases in the world – also one of the most contagious. The good news is that there is no known incidence of it being successfully weaponized, and many experts believe that, because it outruns its hosts so quickly, it also dissipates quickly and therefore does not expand beyond a certain critical mass. The Japanese Am Shinrikyo cult – which carried out the 1995 Tokyo subway attack using Sarin (a G Series nerve agent) – tried to acquire an ebola culture but ultimately gave up and moved onto more conventional bio agents.
Weaponized anthrax also represents a formidable scientific challenge, so it is not surprising that Al Qaeda may have focused on plague – most likely bubonic plague, which was known as the “Black Death” in the Middle Ages, is considerably easier to develop, and can be created in a modest laboratory with commercially available equipment. Plague is still a problem in Africa, so it would not have been too difficult for Al Qaeda to have acquired a sample culture. Plague also would require less scientific expertise than trying to create weaponized anthrax or smallpox.

In that context, it should be remembered that Ayman al-Zawahiri (Al Qaeda’s number-two man after Osama bin Laden) is not only a trained medical doctor with a master’s degree in surgery, but also the son of a pharmacologist and a chemistry professor. In addition, he is known to have had an interest in biowarfare – and, interestingly, spent time in Russia in the 1990s. According to the former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, al-Zawahiri received training from the FSB, the successor organization to the KGB, and was the FSB’s principal connection to Al Qaeda. Litvinenko, of course, became internationally famous, belatedly, when he was murdered by a dose of plononium-210, an extremely rare and costly radiological agent that, it is believed, had been slipped into his food in a Soho sushi restaurant in London.

Plague is disseminated via a “vector,” most commonly an infected flea carried by a rat, which is known as the reservoir host. Traditionally, the best way of controlling the plague has been the creation and implementation of effective rodent-management programs. Largely for that reason, most Western countries are believed to be – thanks to their modern hygiene standards and medical facilities – far less at risk from plague than are the so-called “lesser developed” countries of Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
In addition to hard drives, floppy discs, and material gleaned from interrogations, the United States has accumulated a great deal of evidence related to Al Qaeda’s continuing, and apparently increasing, interest not only in bio weapons, but also in chemical and radiological weapons (especially RDDs, better known as Radiological Dispersion Devices – i.e., “dirty bombs”). Among the more substantive evidence confirming this theory are some NBC (nuclear, biological, and chemical) protective suits seized by British police during a raid on a Finsbury Park mosque in 2003. In addition, Jordanian authorities claimed to have thwarted a major chemical attack in 2004, and there have been credible reports that Abu Musab Zarqawi, Al Qaeda’s late leader in Iraq, had managed to acquire or develop ricin, one of the three deadliest substances on earth (the others being plutonium and botulinal toxin).

Although difficult to deliver to a widely dispersed group of human targets, ricin, a derivative of the lowly castor bean, is an excellent assassination weapon and may have been used by the Soviets to murder several heads of state and other leading Third World politicians. Another telling clue is that Al Qaeda in Iraq hired two chemists in 2004 and tasked them with trying to develop crude chemical and biological weapons. Fortunately, U.S. Marines discovered their laboratory (in Falluja) before any weapons had been manufactured. The Marines did find materials, however, that could have been used to make hydrogen cyanide. Other U.S. troops discovered caged dogs and other animals that they believed were going to be used by Al Qaeda as “guinea pigs” to test either chemical or biological weapons.
Jihadists believe that Muslims have a religious duty to wage an “offensive jihad” against infidels, and there seems to have been no lessening of Muslim antipathy toward the West in recent years. Many observers believe, in fact, that the threat of a Jihadist attack employing weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) is growing rather than receding, despite the recent presidential election in the United States and the dramatic growth of homeland-security precautions against terrorism. Former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) said even prior to 9/11 that the possibility of a terrorist WMD attack against the United States is no longer a question of “if” but “when” such an attack might occur.

Nunn’s statement was echoed by former Vice President Dick Cheney in an interview two weeks after leaving office. According to Cheney, there is a “high probability” of a nuclear or biological attack against the United States within the next few years. That chilling possibility is backed up by a study cited by Gary Ackerman, research director of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, in which respondents indicated that they believe there is a thirty percent probability of a WMD attack against the United States within the next five years.

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Agra-Terror Could Be Just Around The Corner for US.

Terrorists may use insects in bio-attack

Published January 2009

A new book highlights the possibility of terrorist using insects to spread deadly diseases; the author says that “It would be a relatively easy and simple process … A few hundred dollars and a plane ticket and you could have a pretty good stab at it”

As if we did not have enough to worry about. Terrorists could easily contrive an “insect-based” weapon to import an exotic disease according to University of Wyoming Entomologist Jeffery lockwood. Wired‘s Nathan Hodge writes that Lockwood is now promoting his new book, Six-legged Soldiers: Using Insects as Weapons of War. He told BBC Radio 4′s Today’s program that planning a bio-terror attack using insects would “probably be much easier” than developing nuclear or chemical weapons. Today does not post the transcript, but the U.K. Daily Telegraph quotes: “It would be a relatively easy and simple process … A few hundred dollars and a plane ticket and you could have a pretty good stab at it.”

There are those who are skeptical of such claims. Military historian Max Hastings was less-than-enthusiastic about Lockwood’s book in his review of it in this weekend Sunday Times. He did note, though:

The last section of Lockwood’s book is the most plausible and interesting, because it addresses the risks of biological terrorism in our own times. In particular, the author speculates about the consequences if terrorists were to broadcast Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that carries the yellow fever virus. The consequences of a yellow fever epidemic in America, where scarcely anyone is inoculated against the disease, could be devastating.

Hodge notes that U.S. biodefense labs have soaked up massive amounts of funding in recent years to deal with precisely this kind of theoretical threat. As New York Times‘s Eric Lipton and Scott Shane point out, though, the real question remains whether the boom in biodefense technology has made the US safer.

Let’s face the fact that if our enemies are experimenting with y. Pestis (Plague) then everything is in play!

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