Thursday, October 06, 2005

Tin Foil Helmet Time?

Now, here's an oddball article, especially for the Washington Post.

Area health officials were not notified for five days that sensors on the Mall had detected a potentially dangerous bacterium there last month because subsequent tests were not conclusively positive, a federal official said yesterday.

The Department of Homeland Security delayed in alerting the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the same reason, said Richard Besser, who directs the CDC's coordinating office for terrorism preparedness and emergency response. More than half a dozen sensors showed the presence of tularemia bacteria the morning after thousands of people gathered on the Mall for a book festival and antiwar rally, yet the CDC was not contacted for at least 72 hours.
[Emphasis added]

How odd that the Washington DC sensors (which theoretically are always active) should have registered the presence of a bacterium that is considered a likely agent for bioterrorism the day after over 100,000 Americans gathered to protest the Invasion of Iraq. Even odder is the fact that the CDC was not notified of even the potential existence of that bacterium for a couple of days. Perhaps the sensors were all just being flippy that day.

Still, for those on the Mall that day, here is some information from the Center for Disease Control web site:

Q. What are the signs and symptoms of tularemia?
A. The signs and symptoms people develop depend on how they are exposed to tularemia. Possible symptoms include skin ulcers, swollen and painful lymph glands, inflamed eyes, sore throat, mouth sores, diarrhea or pneumonia. If the bacteria are inhaled, symptoms can include abrupt onset of fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, joint pain, dry cough, and progressive weakness. People with pneumonia can develop chest pain, difficulty breathing, bloody sputum, and respiratory failure. Tularemia can be fatal if the person is not treated with appropriate antibiotics.

Q. Why are we concerned about tularemia being used as a bioweapon?
A. Francisella tularensis is highly infectious. A small number of bacteria (10-50 organisms) can cause disease. If Francisella tularensis were used as a bioweapon, the bacteria would likely be made airborne so they could be inhaled. People who inhale the bacteria can experience severe respiratory illness, including life-threatening pneumonia and systemic infection, if they are not treated.

Q. How quickly would someone become sick if he or she were exposed to tularemia bacteria?
A. The incubation period (the time from being exposed to becoming ill) for tularemia is typically 3 to 5 days, but can range from 1 to 14 days.

Now I'm sure the US Government would never dream of using anti-war protestors to test some lethal biological weapon, right?

I am right, am I not?



Blogger NYMary said...

Errr, did I mention that both Thers and I have been sick since DC?


4:40 AM  

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