06 October 2005

Things that make you go hmmmmm....

While scanning Reuters today.... I found this little tidbit....

US finds fever bacteria during war protest weekend.

Small amounts of a bacteria that cause "rabbit fever" were found on Washington's National Mall during the Iraq protest march on Washington. The largest anti-war protest in American history.

The CDC said several government environmental air monitors in the Mall area detected low levels of Francisella tularensis bacteria that cause tularemia, commonly known as rabbit fever, on September 24-25. The CDC said it issued an alert on Friday night as a precaution so medical personnel were aware of the situation and could report any suspected cases. Rabbit fever cannot be passed from person to person but rather is an airborne disease.

Symptoms of the disease include: sudden fever, chills, headaches, conjunctivitis, diarrhea, muscle aches, joint pain, dry cough and progressive weakness.

On the CDC's website it states that "the bacteria can be used as a weapon if made into an aerosol that could be inhaled."

"The bacteria that cause tularemia occur widely in nature but can be isolated and grown in quantity in a laboratory, although manufacturing an effective aerosol weapon would require considerable sophistication."

The germ that causes tularemia is considered a biohazard because it is highly infectious and was tested in the 1960s by the United States as a biological weapon.

The air monitors are part of the nationwide "Biowatch" system installed to sample the air in major metropolitan areas daily for pathogens that could be used in a biological attack on the United States.

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