Military looking into chance that plague virus may have been ‘mishandled’

VLUU L200  / Samsung L200
VLUU L200 / Samsung L200

Forget about much the ballyhooed Zombie Apocalypse that film and television producers have romanticized to the point of becoming a cultural phenomenon. The American people may find themselves busy just dealing with a standard, run of the mill apocalypse that could kill millions.

As reported by Catherine E. Shoichet and Ross Levitt of CNN, and also by the Reuters news service via the new media portal, both on Sept. 10, 2015, the Department of Defense (DoD) is still reeling from the discovery of live anthrax spores mistakenly shipped from Utah’s Dugway Proving Ground to 20 states and the District of Columbia, to include Japan, Great Britain, South Korea, Australia, Canada, Italy and Germany. Now it’s coming to light that the DoD’s Edgewood Chemical Biological Center in Maryland is being investigated for “mishandling” a strain of Yersinia pestis, the killer bacterium that causes the plague.

In the latest investigation of the procedures at the Edgewood Center, inspectors assigned to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) discovered a sample of Yersinia pestis not in an authorized containment area, but rather in a freezer outside of the  containment area. Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook stated to the press, “That’s the scientific work that’s being done at this particular time determining exactly what happened there and whether or not, again, there was mislabeling.”

In the meantime, investigators looked into the possibility whether the sample posed an “infectious threat,” according to Cook. It was eventually disclosed that Army tests found the batch of the plague was not infectious.

Investigators are also checking into whether samples of equine encephalitis were labeled properly in the official government handling logs. Equine encephalitis is a family of horse diseases which manifests itself by an often deadly inflammation of the brain. According to the Center for Disease Control’s official website, the sickness originates in horses, then passed onto birds via mosquitoes. According to the CDC, “Transmission to humans requires mosquito species capable of creating a ‘bridge’ between infected birds and uninfected mammals…”

The website also states that the disease is most often found in regions with freshwater hardwood swamps. “Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, and New Jersey typically have the largest number of cases. [Equine encephalitis] transmission is most common in and around freshwater hardwood swamps in the Atlantic and Gulf Coast states and the Great Lakes region.”

The CDC also made clear that the human mortality rate is approximately 33 percent. Many of those who survive will have mild to severe permanent neurological damage for the remainder of their lives. Furthermore, there is no specific antiviral treatment for infections available at the present time.  Other than hospitalization and standard diagnostics test, victims should also receive “supportive treatment.”