Senator Patrick Leahy thinks the West virus that has killed 54 people this year may be a terrorist weapon. "I think we have to ask ourselves: Is it coincidence that we're seeing such an increase in West Nile virus or is that something that's being tested as a biological weapon against us?" says Leahy, the Vermont Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. In May, an article in a respected medical journal suggested that Iraq may have unleashed the West Nile Virus in the United States via Cuba through the release of migratory birds infected with the virus (See May 17 news story "West Nile Bioterror from Cuba", click here).
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no evidence of bioterrorism. Nationally, 1,295 people have gotten the disease and 54 have died. However, 4 out of 5 people who are bitten by infected mosquitoes do not develop any symptoms.
"In the times in which we live, questions about our vulnerabilities are unavoidable, and finding all the answers we can is more important than ever," Leahy says. "I have no way of knowing what the answers are, but some legitimate questions have been asked, especially before September 11 last year, and no doubt they are being asked anew by the agencies that are working on this."
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