Agraphia Medical Tragicomedy

29Jan/07Off

Anthrax

Knowing full well that this post may put me on a governmental watchlist†, here I go.

There are times when med school is really, really cool. Today we learned about anthrax bioterrorism: why it's unstoppable, how easy it is to pull off, and why it's so awesome†† that we're spreading the warm, gooey butter of freedom all over the barbaric Iraqi people.

Here's the deal. "Anthrax" is a bacteria that normally infects our lovely bovine, equine, and ovine friends. Where it becomes problematic is that if humans breathe it in, we die. There is, however, a 5 day window - and being a bacteria, anthrax responds very well to antibiotics (the very same that women use for UTI's, in fact). Not only that, immunizations prevent infection by all the common Bacillus anthracis strains. Where does it all go horribly, horribly wrong?

This gets back to the question of the gooey freedom butter†††. Apparently Saddam was importing trainloads of culture medium before we invaded. There are very few microorganisms out there well-suited to bioterrorism (the other is smallpox, but as a virus it doesn't grow on culture medium), so unless he was trying to establish a new type of Iraqi cheese, it seems rather obvious what ol' meanie-head was up to.

This is scary because if Saddam's researchers had even the faintest idea what they were doing, they could easily grow an uncommon strain of B. anthracis that was antibiotic resistant. This a) negates our ability to immunize ourselves and b) ruins any hope of treatment. Combined with the ability to easily aerosolize the spores, this makes anthrax the ultimate bioweapon.

If you need me, I'll be in my bunker.

†dear sirs, kindly consider the fact that I am a white, protestant male with a masonic grandfather, no history of violence, who has only ever visited western europe.
††chuckle.
†††goes well on freedom fries and freedom toast.

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