Saturday, April 12, 2008

Dangerous animal virus on US mainland?

The Bush administration is likely to move its research on one of the most contagious animal diseases from an isolated island laboratory to the U.S. mainland near herds of livestock, raising concerns about a catastrophic outbreak.

In Kansas, no less; I won't be far from ground zero.


Anonymous said...

Oh, this is absolutely no good. Kind of insane, actually.

I've read about Plum Island before. I believe it has a Level 5 containment facility, and works on some of the nastiest bacterial and viral stuff in existence. Despite that, and Plum Island's semi-remote location, there have been rumors and newspaper articles suggesting a link between Plum Island work and some outbreaks of disease on shore.

And now the government wants to locate a new lab near areas that breed livestock? How incredibly nuts. The outbreak of hoof and mouth in Britain I seem to recall was traced to someone walking in a contaminated area, and then when leaving, walking over outside soil, from which it was speculated the outbreak of hoof and mouth may have come from when someone else drove over that outside soil, and the disease got picked up in the grooved tracks on car tires. The car, supposedly, then later drove to a farming area. Major whoops.

The vectors for contamination by such diseases is much more likely (regardless of what the USG or the article would suggest about "preventative measures"), by locating such a facility within the continental US, than at some off-shore lab. Even then, there are no guarantees, but that's better than one of the five locations that have already been scouted out for location.

This is near insane, imho. It only takes one unforseen or unrecognized vector for such virulent diseases to spread. Or an accidental release. I would organize resistance and protest efforts lobbying local governments, etc., if such were to be proposed for my locale. Maybe I'm a tad sensitive to this issue since I once lived about 3 blocks from a UC Berkeley Level 4 containment and experimental lab facility.

There's an island off the coast of Britain that was used during WWII for testing of bio/chem weaponry--it's still restricted access only, more than 60 years later, due to latent anthrax spores in the soil.

But putting the kind of lab the US proposes anywhere near human or livestock populations is just amazingly stupid, careless, and reprehensible.

I would suggest reasonably that it should be set up instead in the basement of soon to be former VP Dickhead Cheney, as long as his new retirement villa is set up on an island somewhere far, far away.

Anonymous said...

I am also reminded of Michael Crichton's book, The Andromeda Strain, which is now being remade into a new movie.

Just what we need from the lame duck administration, prior to their passing into historic infamy, as a parting gift: continental US Hot Zones.

Oh, Joy! 8^{

Anonymous said...

Worse than incompetent, the worst US administration in my lifetime. Words fail me in describing the depth of my disappointment in the failure of leadership.

Tony F. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Hate to say it but I got a kind of perverse chuckle out of this one, simply because it's so utterly freaking TYPICAL of just about every action the Bush administration takes....

Anonymous said...

I was just commenting above about Plum Island, hoof and mouth disease, etc., above.

Now, there's a report at Wired news about hoof and mouth accidents that have occurred at Plum Island, in the context of the Yahoo news report Mac linked to, (about how there are proposals being floated to establish such dangerous facilities within the US, near livestock and human populations):

As I said, this new Bush/Cheney admin proposal is nothing less than insane. Or satanic.