RealNews

Health officials fear U.S. unprepared for botulism attack

Easy to find and easy to produce, botulinum toxin is the most poisonous natural substance on Earth. In the hands of a bioterrorist, a single gram – the weight of a paper clip – could kill more than 1 million people. Federal officials fear the nation is both vulnerable to such an attack and ill prepared should one occur. “We are making this the highest priority,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health, one of the federal government’s top bioterrorism officials. “We are really marshaling all available resources.” The toxin easily poisons those who eat it, and experts fear terrorists could infect the nation’s food supply and sicken thousands, making the 2001 anthrax attacks-by-mail seem minor by comparison. The government only has enough antitoxin available to treat victims of a small attack – one official put the inventory at more than 1,000 doses. And the special treatment needed for children is produced only by a California program now in jeopardy because of the state’s budget shortfall. The issue takes on particular urgency as the United States wages war with Iraq. In 1995, Iraq told the United Nations that it had made more than 5,000 gallons of botulinum toxin and loaded much of it into bombs and warheads. Inspectors believe Saddam Hussein actually has materials capable of producing twice as much toxin – enough to kill the entire human population three times over. Full Story

OODA Analyst

OODA Analyst

OODA is comprised of a unique team of international experts capable of providing advanced intelligence and analysis, strategy and planning support, risk and threat management, training, decision support, crisis response, and security services to global corporations and governments.