The Biological War Threat Anthrax, Black Plague, and Bird Flu, Oh, My! Kimothy L. Smith, DVM PhD Nevada Counties with Cases of Anthrax Played in Las Vegas at the House of Blues in Feb 2012 Overview • • • • • A Brief Bit of History Biological Warfare Programs Bio-Terrorism and Biodefense Emerging Infectious Diseases Summary and Discussion A Brief Bit of History • The Siege of Caffa • European Settlement of America • George Washington Locator Map of Caffa Present Day Feodosija, Ukraine. Establish in 1266 Siege of Caffa • The year 1346 • First known use of Biological Warfare • Responsible for spreading the Black Death from Crimea to Europe European Settlement of America • In 1763 Lord Jeffrey Amherst purposely distributed Smallpox virus contaminated blankets to American Indians • In the mid-1800’s at least four different major epidemics struck the Plains tribes George Washington • Personal physician recorded in his journal that Washington had Anthrax • Surgically removed the lesion from his thigh • Kept very secret Recommended Reading Biological Warfare Programs • Country Program Status and Sverdlovsk • Biological Weapons Convention • Military vs. Civilian and Agricultural Threats Program Status Probable Possible Research Former Key Sverdlovsk Anthrax Incident 1979 Sverdlosvk 1979 Between 120 and 400 persons sick At least 75 died Initial report blamed contaminated meat Later linked to release from bio-weapons facility Multiple fragment sizes for vrrA loci Military housing south of Compound 19 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention • The 1925 Geneva Protocol prohibited use of Biological Weapons • The BTWC was opened for signature in 1972 and entered into force in 1975 • The Convention bans the development, production, stockpiling, acquisition and retention of microbial or other biological agents or toxins, in types and in quantities that have no justification for prophylactic, protective or other peaceful purposes. Sec. of State Clinton at BWC Review Conference 7 “The nature of the problem is evolving. The advances in science and technology make it possible to both prevent and cure more diseases, but also easier for states and non-state actors to develop biological weapons. A crude, but effective, terrorist weapon can be made by using a small sample of any number of widely available pathogens, inexpensive equipment, and college-level chemistry and biology. Even as it becomes easier to develop these weapons, it remains extremely difficult…to detect them, because almost any biological research can serve dual purposes. The same equipment and technical knowledge used for legitimate research to save lives can also be used to manufacture deadly diseases.” Military vs. Civilian and Agricultural Threat • On the battlefield the threat of BW may be as effective (or more!) as actual use • Is the enemy objective to kill or hinder (incapacitating agents) or consume resources? • Control of BW agent after release may be difficult or impossible due to drift, etc., or use of infectious agent Military vs. Civilian and Agricultural Threat • Military use of BW agent on a civilian population? Biological Warfare or BioTerrorism? • Attack on agricultural targets could be potentially more devastating, at least economically • Accomplished by State or Non-state actors Bioterrorism and Biodefense • • • • Aum Shinrikyo and Amerithrax Biodefense Spending vs. Readiness DIY Bio and Synthetic Biology “The Birds are Already Doing That…” Aum Shinrikyo Anthrax Attack 1993 Aum leader Chizuo Matsumoto aka Shoko Asahara Sterne Livestock Vaccine Strain Kameido (Aum Shinrikyo) Isolate vrrC1 vrrC2 -Both isolates lack pXO2 plasmid -Fragment sizes match for 7 loci vrrA vrrB1 vrrB2 CG3 pXO1-AAT Sept. 18, 2001 Trenton Mailing of anthrax letters to NBC and NY Post and probably to the National Enquirer. Sept. 20 St. Petersburg Mailing of hoax letters to NBC and probably to NY Post [and National Enquirer?] Sept. 21 place? Mailing of accusatory letter to Quantico Marine Base accusing Dr. Asaad, former USAMRIID scientist, as terrorist. Sept. 1925 NYC NBC received and opened ANTHRAX letter (brown granular sandy); not recognized as dangerous, and not reported by media. Sept. 25 NYC NBC received and opened HOAX letter postmarked 20 Sept; notified FBI but incident not reported by media. Oct. 1 DC Washington Times article quoting SH (reprint from 11 Aug 97). Oct. 2 Boca Raton Stevens (AMI) checked into hospital, near death, undiagnosed. Oct. 4 Boca Raton First report of anthrax case, 5pm (Stevens, AMI). Oct. 5 Boca Raton Death of first anthrax victim (Stevens, inhalation anthrax). Oct. 5 St. Petersburg Mailing of hoax letters hoax letters to J. Miller at NY Times and H. Troxler at St. Petersburg Times. Oct. 5-8 US media Suspicion of possible bioterrorism is increasing but mail not implicated. Oct. 6-7 Boca Raton At AMI, spores found in 2nd worker and on Stevens' computer keyboard. Oct. 8 Boca Raton 2nd worker (Blanco, mailroom worker) at AMI sick, nasal spores detected; FBI takes over investigation, seals AMI office. Blanco later confirmed to have inhalation anthrax. Oct. 9 US media Looks like bioterrorism (letters not yet recognized as source). Oct. 9 St. Petersburg Troxler (St. P Times) opened hoax letter. Oct. 9 Trenton Mailing of anthrax letters to Daschle and Leahy. Oct. 10 Boca Raton 3rd AMI worker (2nd in mailroom) tests positive for anthrax. FBI now conducting criminal investigation. Anthrax strain appears to be Ames. Oct. 10-12 US media First suspicion that source of anthrax at AMI might be a letter (not found), since two of those affected work in mailroom. Oct. 12 NYC Miller at NYT opened hoax letter. Oct. 12-13 US media First reports of any anthrax of hoax letters to media. Oct. 12 NYC NBC cutaneous anthrax case reported (Brokaw's Assistant). First symptom was 25 Sept. CSF smear Thoracic radiograph Bruce Ivins Amerithrax • The total cost of Amerithrax is incalculable • 5 deaths and 24 infected person (known) • Did the U.S. reaction cause this to be a “Black Swan” event? Biodefense Spending Federal Agency Biodefense Funding, FY2010-FY2011 Biosecurity and Bioterrorism: Volume 8, Number 2, 2010 Civilian Biodefense Funding by Agency, FY2011 (in $millions) Federal Agency Biodefense Funding, FY2010-FY2011 Biosecurity and Bioterrorism: Volume 8, Number 2, 2010 Bio-Response Report Card The Bipartisan WMD Terrorism Research Center’s Bio-Response Report Card October 2011, WMD Center Wash., DC wmdcenter.org DIY Bio Do-it-yourself: Cathal Garvey, 26, poses in the biology laboratory he created in his mother's spare bedroom. – MIT Technology Review 2/13/12 The Cat’s Out of the Bag “The Birds are Already Doing That…” • National Institutes of Health funded study to genetically modify H5N1 Influenza virus (Bird Flu) to be more easily transmitted between humans • The research prompted the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB), which advises the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), to recommend that Science and Nature redact key information prior to publication • Both NSABB and HHS expressed concerns that published details about the papers' methodology and results could become a blueprint for bioterrorism. Emerging Infectious Diseases • West Nile Virus • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) • Avian Flu • Swine Flu • Ebola Reston Virus • XDR TB Summary and Discussion • BW Threat of yesterday likely doesn’t exist today • Bioterrorism and EID’s are “Black Swan” events • Balanced approach between Biodefense and building Public Health Capability and Capacity is the most sound approach • Despite fears of DIY Bio and Synthetic Biology openness of research keeps us safer Questions or Comments?