The Hot Zone

Hans Andersson hasse at panix.com
Fri Jan 26 22:05:05 EST 1996


In article <4e9das$qu0 at newsbf02.news.aol.com>, arclight at aol.com (ArcLight)
wrote:

> What is scary about "The Hot Zone" is that a top researcher, familiar with
> BL-4 agents would "sniff" an unknown agent that has been killing primates.
> The biggest  unknown about these agents is the lab safety under army
> control. These programs should be under the strictest civilian scrutiny.
> USAMRIID should be put under the direct control of the CDC.
> 
> reference GAO report to the chairman  GAO/NSIAD - 91 -68 Frank C. Conahan
> Asst. Comptroller General
> 
> I await the inevitable flames.
> 

No flames - but, I don't believe that USAMRIID is under less strict
scrutiny than civilian labs. 

Marburg was spread from Behringwerke AG, a vaccine-producing subsidiary of
pharmaceutical giant Hoechst AG,in Germany, 1967. Seven people died.

Here's another example from the Yale Arbovirus Research Unit, reported by
Michael D. Lemonick, TIME Magazine, Sept. 5, 1994:

   "The accident must have come as a horrifying shock, even for an
experienced scientist. One minute, a sample was spinning in a high-speed
centrifuge. Then,
suddenly, the container cracked, and the sample - tissue contaminated by a
rare, potentially lethal virus - spattered the inside of the centrifuge.
Fortunately, the Yale University researcher working with the deadly germs
was wearing a lab gown, latex gloves and a mask, as required under federal
guidelines. He also knew the proper procedure for dealing with a deadly
spill: rub every surface with bleach, sterilize all instruments that have
been exposed, then wipe everything down again with alcohol. There was just
one rule he failed to follow. Having decided the danger was over, he
didn't bother to report the accident, and a few days later he left town to
visit an old friend in Boston.   
  
   Bad move. Although he would not realize it for about a week, the
scientist - his name has not been officially released - had been infected
with the mysterious Brazilian Sabia virus. Soon after he got back to Yale,
he was running a fever that reached 103 degrees F. An experimental
antiviral drug eventually stopped the illness, but the man had exposed
five people, including two children, before being confined to a hospital
isolation ward, and another 75 or so health-care workers after that. All
of them are under observation. While the patient recovered last week."

Peter Jahrling and Tom Geisbert, from USAMRIID, made a really bad move - a
very serious mistake.

But, I admire the small group of people from CDC and USAMRIID that are
handling surveillance, research and are the U.S. rapid action force
whenever there's an outbreak of diseases like Ebola and Hantavirus. It's a
dedicated group of disease fighters -- that really have had their budgets
whacked.

--Hans Andersson, NYC
hasse at panix.com



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