Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Pathogens in the News

I live a leisurely 10 minute drive from Fort Detrick. I could probably get there, in light traffic, in 5...but that might involve exceeding speed limits, and, as you know, I would NEVER exceed a speed limit. Okay, I would NEVER exceed a speed limit if I knew there were cops in the area.

Anyway, I bring up Fort Detrick because pathogens have been in the news a little bit lately. And if there's one thing Fort Detrick is known for, it would be its comprehensive collection of every chemical and biological pathogen known to mankind. It's tremendously comforting knowing it's only a 10 minute drive away. If the {stuff} is ever set free, I won't be one of the survivors lingering in agony.

First stop, good old Detrick.

Vials of a potentially harmful pathogen have gone missing at Fort Detrick, the Army’s main biodefense lab. But don’t freak out. The samples of Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis (VEE) virus are relatively small. The Army has found “no evidence yet of criminal misconduct,” the Washington Post reports. And the virus usually causes only “a mild flulike illness” — although “brain inflammation and death” are possible, too.
Brain inflammation and death - woo hoo! I gotta get me some of that there.

Let us not forget that the anthrax used in the 2001 postal attacks came from...(wait for it)...Fort Effing Detrich! Honestly, kids! Put your toys away when you're done playing! Please!

This story is a little more disconcerting than a wee bit of VEE. Significantly more disconcerting.
A Canadian scientist has been arrested for smuggling 22 vials stolen from Canada's National Microbiology Lab, used in Ebola and HIV research, into the United States, Canadian and US officials said Wednesday.

Konan Michel Yao, 42, "was taken into custody" while crossing the border from Manitoba province into the western US state of North Dakota on May 5, said a spokeswoman for the Public Health Agency of Canada, which operates the lab.
Never mind that we're reassured later in the article that 'tests later showed "they are not hazardous"', that doesn't exactly give me a warm fuzzy, ya know?

We live in a dangerous world. Thank God for science! They're taking every conceivable step to make us more....uh....never mind.