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Bioterror In DC? – Bacteria Found At Protest

Alert reader Zilla caught this bit of news about last weekend’s Support The Terrorists rally on the Mall in Washington, DC.

From Moslem-owned, Reuters :

US finds fever bacteria during war protest weekend

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Small amounts of a bacteria that causes "rabbit fever" were found on Washington’s National Mall last weekend as thousands of protesters marched against the Iraq War, U.S. health authorities said on Saturday.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said several government environmental air monitors in the Mall area detected low levels of Francisella tularensis bacteria that cause Tularemia, commonly known as rabbit fever, on September 24-25.

Public health agencies had no reports of any related human or animal illnesses caused by the bacteria.

The CDC said it issued an alert on Friday night as a precaution so medical personnel were aware of the situation and could report any suspected cases.

Rabbit fever can not be passed from person to person and can be effectively treated with readily available medicines, the CDC said. Symptoms usually appear 3 to 5 days after exposure, but in rare cases can take up to two weeks.

Symptoms of the disease, which an infected person would have begun experiencing no earlier than on Monday, include: sudden fever, chills, headaches, conjunctivitis, diarrhea, muscle aches, joint pain, dry cough and progressive weakness.

District of Columbia health officials told local radio station WTOP on Saturday the detected bacteria was not harmful and probably occurred naturally.

The CDC waited a week to notify city officials of the detected bacteria because it took that long to test the samples at labs and confirm its presence, the radio station reported.

According to the CDC’s Web site, people can get rabbit fever by:

* Being bitten by a infected tick, deerfly or other insect

* Handling infected animal carcasses

* Eating or drinking contaminated food or water

* Breathing in the bacteria

The CDC also said the bacteria can be used as a weapon if made into an aerosol that could be inhaled.

"The bacteria that cause Tularemia occur widely in nature and could be isolated and grown in quantity in a laboratory, although manufacturing an effective aerosol weapon would require considerable sophistication," the CDC said.

The Washington Post said the germ that causes tularemia is considered a biohazard because it is highly infectious and was tested in the 1960s by the United States as a biological weapon.

One of many security measures adopted in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks, the air monitors are part of the nationwide "Biowatch" system installed to sample the air in major metropolitan areas daily for pathogens that could be used in a biological attack on the United States.

And there is this further information from the ever-ready Wikipedia:

Francisella is a genus of pathogenic bacteria. The type species, F. tularensis, causes the disease tularemia or rabbit fever. F. philomiragia isassociated with septicemia. They are facultative intracelluar bacteria, spread primarily through insect vectors and inhalation of aerosolized cells. The latter route of inoculation requires only 30-50 organisms to cause pulmonary infection, which if untreated is lethal in 15-30% of cases. Due to its ease of spread by aerosol and its high virulence, F. tularensis is classified as a category A biowarfare agent by the U.S. government.

From the article:

"District of Columbia health officials told local radio station WTOP on Saturday the detected bacteria was not harmful and probably occurred naturally."

I don’t mean to sound like a conspiracy monger, but how exactly would they know this?

If it occurs naturally, wouldn’t it have happened regularly before? And if it has, why bring it up as news now?

At any rate, I sure hope Mother Sheehan didn’t contract anything — that is, besides her hoped-for book deals and speaking engagements.

This article was posted by Steve on Sunday, October 2nd, 2005. Comments are currently closed.

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