Terrorists who blow up buildings--or themselves--may beeven more deadly than they seem.
Suicide bombers not only bring death, they can bring diseaseto the victims who survive. Israeli doctors have discovered that hepatitis and other blood-borne diseases can be passed on from their flying bone fragments.
When Itzhak Braverman and his emergency staff at the HillelYaffe Medical Center treated 32 victims of one blast, theyused CAT scans to look for metal fragments in the survivors.In one 31-year-old woman, the scan revealed dense fragmentsin her neck, breast and groin.
But they were not metal -- they were bits of bone from thesuicide bomber. Braverman sent a fragment to the Instituteof Forensic Medicine in Tel Aviv to be tested and it came back positive for hepatitis B. They think this is "the firstreport of human bone fragments acting as foreign bodies in ablast injury." Braverman says, "As a result of that case,all survivors of these attacks in Israel are now vaccinatedfor hepatitis B.?
This is a new danger that no one has ever considered before.Embedded bone fragments may spread other diseases as well,such as dengue fever, syphilis, CJD (the human form of MadCow Disease) and malaria. But the biggest fear is HIV.
The bone fragment removed from the woman tested negative forHIV, says Braverman, "But these test kits are designed forblood. It is very hard to test bone."
Fortunately, only 50 cases of HIV/AIDS have been reported inthe West Bank and Gaza, according to a 2000 report from thePalestinian National Authority Ministry of Health. But as inother conservative societies, it?s likely that many casesremain unreported.
In the U.S., it has been revealed that polio vaccines usedin the 1950s and '60s were contaminated with a virus thatmay cause rare cancers in humans.
The vaccine was contaminated by a monkey virus known asSV40, which causes cancer. The virus-contaminated vaccine,cultured from monkey kidneys, was given to 98 millionAmericans from 1955 to 1963. Polio vaccines used now arefree from SV40 contamination. Health agencies discoveredthat the vaccine was contaminated, but were worried aboutwidespread panic, so they never told the public and did notrecall the vaccine.
As U.S. baby boomers have aged, rates of formerly rarecancers have shot up as well. Some of these are braincancer, bone cancer and non-Hodgkin?s lymphoma, all of whichare influenced by SV40. But researchers can?t tie thesecancers directly to the vaccine. Michele Carbone, apathologist at Loyola University, says, "It iswell-established that cancer is caused by multiplefactors?Most people exposed to the virus will not get cancer."
One of the cancers that?s increased is mesothelioma, whichaffects the cells in the lining of the chest and the lung.The actor Steve McQueen died from this disease. It?sbelieved to be caused by asbestos, and the rates for thedisease have gone way up since 1950, when it was practicallyunknown.
An article in The New York Times pointed out that when theSeptember 11 terrorists flew their planes into theWorld Trade Center in New York, they caused the towers tocollapse, releasing tons of airborne asbestos into thedowntown area, where a lot of baby boomers, who werevaccinated with the tainted polio vaccine, live.
If large numbers of them come down with mesothelioma adecade from now, the death toll from 911 will turn out to beeven greater than we thought.
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