Friday, April 11, 2008

An animal disease lab

In the middle of animal country. That is what is being proposed here in the USA right now. (I wrote about this in the Farm Side a long time ago. Wish the paper was a free site so you could read it.) It seems absolutely nuts to me to put an animal virus research lab containing live viruses, with the potential to kill off every cow, sheep and goat in the country, in the middle of farm and ranch land. An accidental release of animal virus would most likely result in a devastating mess. During a simulation of what might occur should foot and mouth disease virus escape into the the American cattle population the end result was food shortages so severe there was rioting in the streets and so many cattle killed that the National Guard ran out of bullets."In the exercise, the government said it would have been forced to dig a ditch in Kansas 25 miles long to bury carcasses."

Our existing lab, Plum Island, which is located off Long Island, is said not to be secure enough so a new lab must be built. (We put men on the moon, others in orbit and we can't make our existing facility secure enough? Doesn't make much sense to me.) However, even if a new lab is required, putting it in Kansas (where last time I looked there are an awful lot of cows) seems insane. Great Britain found out just last year that accidental virus release can and will happen. I am behind those in Congress who want some more research done before this decision is finalized.


Stacy said...

By "not secure enough" do they mean Plum Island is ripe for an outbreak or that it'd be tough to defend against terrorists? You'd think an island would be a really good place to contain live viruses.

Then again, I read a mystery novel set on Plum Island a few years back...and it was the scientists who were stealing the stuff. Not an unlikely scenerio, I guess, but possible anywhere the facility is located.

cube said...

We have level 4 containment labs in which no air from inside the lab ever gets to the outside. Of course, that doesn't solve the problem of intentional contamination by scientists who've been bribed and/or blackmailed like Stacy alluded to.

Seems like we need the labs. It makes sense to put them in the safest place possible in case the worst case scenario unfolds.

threecollie said...

Stacy, I guess there isn't a great deal of danger from release pathogens at Plum because it is out at sea. However, with any of them scientists can carry the stuff out either intentionally or otherwise. I also read a novel about Plum Island...can't remember the name though''

Cube I hate to see it in Kansas, but I am no scientist, just a concerned farmer. The thing in England was a real wake up about how secure the labs are. What a crime for a government run lab to cause hundreds of animals to be killed because of their negligence.

Windyridge said...

The fact that we can do as you said "We put men on the moon, others in orbit and " and yet can't do some of the simplest things, has always amazed me. I just don't get it. Are we just selectively brilliant or selectively dumb or what???

threecollie said...

WR, as I said to Cube, that business in England is terrifying. When that lab let the virus out transport of cattle was totally shut down, besides the wholesale slaughter. Farmers as far as Wales and Scotland were virtually put out of business by someone's mistake. We can't afford not to learn from them.