It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
H5N1 out of control: Labs under bioterrorist and pandemic threat
The book is scheduled for April 2009, but the Baxter-Contamination-Case in Europe may justify how necessary the reading really will be. “Detection of Highly Dangerous Pathogens: Microarray Methods for BSL 3 and BSL 4 Agents” (WILEY, ISBN: 978-3-527-32275-6) is written by leading experts in the field as part of an interdisciplinary pan-European research program funded by the EU. According to Wiley, “this book provides a unique and comprehensive overview of how microarray technology can be used in safely tracking the most highly dangerous pathogens”, and: “A must-have for public health agencies focused on bioterrorism as well as all laboratories working with BSL3 and/or BSL 4 agents”. The publishing house is right, as a U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) preliminary Report revealed already in 2007: “No single federal agency, according to 12 agencies' responses to our survey, has the mission to track the overall number of BSL-3 and BSL-4 labs in the United States”. Another Report to the Chairman, Committee on Homeland Security, House of Representatives, issued on February 26th this year resumes the worst case: “Although certain performance measures have been established in the National Pandemic Implementation Plan to prepare for an influenza pandemic, these measures are not always linked to results”. The Baxter H5N1 Contamination in Europe was not the first global viral accident in BSL labs, as governmental documents from 2007 reveal. by Vlad Georgescu
Highly pathogenic virus-samples are sen t around the globe by many pharmaceutical and biotech companies. They work with lethal viruses, and many of these labs have subcontractors which can't secure the deadly stuff in an appropriate way. And, worst of all, security lacks could initiate a new bioterrorist threat coming from inside western countries – not because of Baxter, but because it became evident that samples can be out of routine control even if belonging to pharmaceutical giants working very professional - usually.
USA: Deadly viruses out of control
U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) chief technologist Keith Rhodes from the Center for Technology and Engineering, Applied Research and Methods, GAO noted in late 2007 in his written testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Committee on Energy and Commerce that high-containment biosafety laboratories, specifically biosafety levels 3 and 4 (BSL-3 and BSL-4), have been “proliferating” since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The report is alarming, as the following excerpt demonstrates:
“A major proliferation of high-containment BSL-3 and BSL-4 labs is taking place in the United States, according to the literature, federal agency officials, and experts. The expansion is taking place across many sectors--federal, academic, state, and private--and all over the United States. Concerning BSL-4 labs, which handle the most dangerous agents, the number of these labs has increased from 5--before the terrorist attacks of 2001--to 15, including at least 1 in planning stage. Information on expansion is available about high-containment labs that are registered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Select Agent Program, and that are federally funded. However, much less is known about the expansion of labs outside the Select Agent Program, as well as the nonfederally funded labs, including location, activities, and ownership. No single federal agency, according to 12 agencies' responses to our survey, has the mission to track the overall number of BSL-3 and BSL-4 labs in the United States”.
BSL-3 and BSL-4 mostly contain very hazardous biological agents, potentially to be used as bioweapons, as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microorganisms. The labs also can contain infectious substance which have been bioengineered or synthesized from special component of microorganism. For example, BSL-4 laboratories are working with small pox viruses (Variola major) or the plague virus (Yersinia pestis).
Experts fight H5N1 bird flu using smallpox vaccine
Mon Mar 2, 2009 11:47am EST
By Tan Ee Lyn
HONG KONG (Reuters) - Scientists in Hong Kong and the United States have developed an experimental H5N1 bird flu vaccine for people by piggybacking it on the well-tested and highly successful smallpox vaccine.
Initial tests on mice showed the vaccine to be highly effective, they told a news conference in Hong Kong on Sunday.
"It produced a lot of (H5N1) antibodies and the speed of antibody response was far higher with this strategy than the Sanofi one," said Malik Peiris, a microbiologist and bird flu expert at the University of Hong Kong.
Peiris was referring to Sanofi-Aventis's H5N1 bird flu vaccine for humans, which has been approved for use in the United States.
In an article published in the current Journal of Immunology, the experts from Hong Kong and the U.S. National Institutes of Health described how they inserted five key components of the H5N1 virus into the smallpox vaccine.
"We put in many other proteins into that vaccine; we are using it like a carrier, if you like, a piggyback," Peiris said.
The vaccine uses a Vietnam strain of the H5N1 virus and appeared to be broadly protective. Mice which were inoculated with it successfully fought off an Indonesian strain of H5N1, according to the scientists.
Since 2003, the H5N1 avian influenza virus has infected 408 people in 15 countries and killed 254 of them. It has killed or forced the culling of more than 300 million birds as it spread to 61 countries in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa.
While H5N1 rarely infects people, experts fear it could mutate into a form that people could easily pass to one another, sparking a pandemic that could kill tens of millions and topple the global economy.
anti·gen (an′tə jən, -jen′)
a protein, toxin, or other substance of high molecular weight, to which the body reacts by producing antibodies
Australia antigen definition
an antigen present in the blood of some persons with one form of hepatitis
Avian Influenza A (H5N1)
Influenza A (H5N1) virus – also called “H5N1 virus” – is an influenza A virus subtype that occurs mainly in birds, is highly contagious among birds, and can be deadly to them. H5N1 virus does not usually infect people, but infections with these viruses have occurred in humans. Most of these cases have resulted from people having direct or close contact with H5N1-infected poultry or H5N1-contaminated surfaces.
The global spread of highly pathogenic H5N1 in birds is considered a significant pandemic threat.
While other H5N1 strains are known, they are significantly different from a current, highly pathogenic H5N1 strain on a genetic level, making the global spread of this new strain unprecedented. The H5N1 strain is a fast-mutating, highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAI) found in multiple bird species. It is both epizootic (an epidemic in non-humans) and panzootic (a disease affecting animals of many species especially over a wide area). Unless otherwise indicated, "H5N1" in this article refers to the recent highly pathogenic strain of H5N1.
"Since 1997, studies of H5N1 indicate that these viruses continue to evolve, with changes in antigenicity and internal gene constellations; an expanded host range in avian species and the ability to infect felids; enhanced pathogenicity in experimentally infected mice and ferrets, in which they cause systemic infections; and increased environmental stability."
Tens of millions of birds have died of H5N1 influenza and hundreds of millions of birds have been slaughtered and disposed of, to limit the spread of H5N1. Countries that have reported one or more major highly pathogenic H5N1 outbreaks in birds (causing at least thousands but in some cases millions of dead birds) are (in order of first outbreak occurrence): Korea, Vietnam, Japan, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, China, Malaysia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Turkey, Romania, Croatia, Ukraine, Cyprus, Iraq, Nigeria, Egypt, India, France, Niger, Bosnia, Azerbaijan, Albania, Cameroon, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Israel, Pakistan, Jordan, Burkina Faso, Germany, Sudan, Ivory Coast, Djibouti, Hungary, United Kingdom, Kuwait, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Ghana, Czech Republic, Togo.