In what was either an accident or abioterrorismattack, potentially lethal samples of the Asian flu weresent to laboratories around the world by a U.S. testingorganization. This flu strain appeared between 1957 and1968 and killed four million people worldwide. Was this anaccident?or an act of terrorism?
Testing kits containing the virus were sent to more than3,700 laboratories in 18 different countries, from Brazil toLebanon, in an act that is reminiscent of the anthrax thatwas sent to the news media and government officials a fewyears ago. The World Health Organization (WHO) says thatecause the virus hasn't been in circulation since 1968,people born after that date do not have antibodies againstit, and current flu vaccines don't protect against it. If itinfected just one person, it would spread rapidly.
The virus went to Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Bermuda,Brazil, Canada, Chile, Mexico, the US, Hong Kong, Japan,Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Israel, Lebanon, and SaudiArabia. Hong Kong and Japan say the flu strain they weresent has been destroyed.
The flu was sent in contaminated testing kits by the Collegeof American Pathologists between October 2004 and February2005. In April, US government officials asked the CAP tocontact the labs to which samples had been sent, asking themto destroy them. Due to concerns about bioterrorism, thishas been kept secret until now. The College of AmericanPathologists did not violate the law by sending out thekits, but the law obviously needs to be revised.
The H2N2 flu virus that was sent out was classified atBiological Safety Level 2, meaning not particularlydangerous. But the Centers for Disease Control andPrevention, which is responsible for classifying viruses,says it was in the process of deciding whether to change theflu strain's classification--and then found out that it hadsent out all over the world. Was this an accident or, as inthe case of the anthrax mailings, is there a rouge terroristat the CDC?
The WHO says there is no guarantee that every sample of thevirus can be destroyed because some of the laboratories mayhave sent it on to other places. So far, no one has becomeill from handling the virus.
But why send out kits like this at all? The same questionwas asked when it was discovered that anthrax is routinelysent from one lab to another. It turns out the kits are usedto see whether labs can correctly identify a particularvirus strain, but normally, current flu strains are the onessent out. The only reason this is safer is that current flushots will protect many people, plus people who have alreadygotten the flu will have an immunity against that strain.
Don't miss Jim Marrs' provocative comments on this situationon this week'sDreamland!
Art credit: http://www.freeimages.co.uk
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