What Our Government Is Not Telling Us About Anthrax
Anthrax is a naturally occurring bacteria that lives in the form of spores. The spores are capable of reproduction with minimal environmental support. Humans can become infected by ingesting, inhaling or by having spores enter the body through a break in the skin. Until this month there has been approximately one case of anthrax reported per year in the United States. The Center for Disease Control ("CDC"), a governmental agency has publicly stated for years that it has enough antibiotic to counter the infection if an outbreak occurs. Tommy Thompson, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, recently went on CBS television's "60 Minutes" to assure the American people that they were safe from biological terrorism. Just this week Thompson told the Senate that the U.S. is prepared to respond to a future biological attack. Is our government telling us the truth? We should all decide for ourselves.
The antibiotic the CDC has to counter anthrax is ciproflaxin ("Cipro"), manufactured by Bayer. Treatment for pulmonary anthrax infection, the most dangerous type, currently consists of an intravenous drip of approximately 400mg of Cipro three times a day in an intensive care environment until the patient is stabilized with no signs of the infection. The patient is then sent home for at least 30 days on two 500mg tablets of Cipro a day.
Do the math. The United States has over 275 million people. Do we really believe the CDC has sufficient quantities of Cipro to respond to a well-planned attack of biological terrorism? Did Bayer manufacture enough Cipro to counter a terrorist attack in a number of locations? Let us assume there is sufficient quantities of Cipro to treat infected patients. Is it logistically possible to administer the treatment in the case of an isolated outbreak never mind a well-planned attack on a number of locations?
In March of 1998, the Department of Defense ("DoD") began immunizing their personnel in high threat areas. The DoD implemented a vaccination program against anthrax which was administered to all active duty and reserve personnel. The DoD stated in their vaccination publications that "the unpredictable nature of terrorism make it prudent to include biological warfare defense in all of our force protection planning." The federal government has not deemed it necessary to protect its citizens in a similar manner. Even the DoD has not been able to vaccinate all of its troops because of a host of errors by BioPort, the manufacturer of the vaccine.
Common sense indicates that it would have been easier to vaccinate the population ahead of time. That leads to another question. Why did President Clinton state in December 1997 that there is no expert opinion supporting vaccination of the U.S. civilian population against anthrax? The answer may be found in Department of the Navy clinical documents that indicate that inhalation of anthrax during biological warfare would be 99 percent lethal . Infection from other means, although not as lethal as inhalation, has very high mortality rates.The Journal of the American Medical Association recently published a detailed report on anthrax. The report noted that as far back as 1970, a World Health Organization estimated that casualties following the theoretical aircraft release of 50 kg of anthrax over a developed urban population of 5 million would be 250,000. A 1993 report by Congress estimated that between 130,000 and 3 million deaths could follow the aerosolized release of 100 kg of anthrax spores upwind of the Washington, DC. The report indicated that deaths would match or exceed that of a hydrogen bomb.
Our government has known since the time of the previous Bush administration that Iraq had developed anthrax, among other toxins, for biological warfare. George Herbert Walker Bush's administration packed up and declared the United States the winner of the Persian Gulf War. The "winners," including Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, and Donald Rumsfeld, left Saddam Hussein in power. Why did our government, men who publicly stated that Hussein had ties to terrorists, not finish the job? Why would hawks leave to diplomatic channels assurance that biological weapons were not being manufactured by Hussein? Arrogance is one reason. Bush administration officials did not believe that our enemies in the Middle East could effectively deliver an anthrax attack on the continental United States. Reports that individuals connected to the September 11 attacks were investigating crop dusters may have changed their mind but you would not know that from listening to Tommy Thompson.
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