Report: Research Facility “Loses” Thousands of Tubes Containing Deadly Virus

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A French research institute working on various deadly viruses, including SARS, has apparently misplaced thousands of tubes and no one is quite sure where they went.

A routine inventory check at Paris’ Pasteur Institute revealed that 2,349 tubes containing fragments of the virus responsible for the deaths of 774 people in 2002 were missing, the centre named after French chemist Louis Pasteur said.

It is not clear how the tubes disappeared from one of the institute’s safest laboratories. Management were made aware of the loss in January, Le Monde newspaper reported.

For weeks, staff at the institute tried to find the missing vials, general director Christian Bréchot said.

“We’ve looked for those boxes [containing the tubes] everywhere,” Bréchot explained.

“We went thought the lists of all the people who have worked here in the past year and a half, including trainees. We have scrutinised their profile to check if there was any conflict.”

Bréchot said that foul play was “highly improbable” but had not been ruled out.

Though it’s not clear how, investigators have pretty much ruled out foul play. But keep in mind that we’re talking about a deadly virus that has been removed from what should be a highly secured area.  Moreover, no one seems to know when the virus was actually taken.

According to the Pasteur Institute, however, there is no immediate danger because the virus in the vials won’t spread the disease:

The institute was quick to reassure the public and said that the contents of the missing vials had no infectious potential. They contained only part of the virus and had no ability to spread.

“Independent experts referred by health authorities have qualified such potential as ‘non-existing’ according to the available evidence and literature on the survival of the Sars virus,” the institute said.

When dealing with deadly viruses, it is always a good idea to secure your facility, which makes this particular disappearance alarming.

Although the fragments are not dangerous, they do raise concerns by revealing the lab’s vulnerability, said Dr. William Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.

“It’s actually not in itself so scary but you wonder about the procedures in that laboratory,” said Schaffner, who is also a former president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. “Could that lab and perhaps others actually misplace vials that have the complete virus so that it might escape?”

For all we know, the vials disappeared months ago, which brings up the possibility that other infectious disease tubes may have also disappeared.

Apparently, security at these high level research facilities is not up to par. Last year a vial of Guanarito bio-terror agent capable of being used in a “contagion attack” disappeared from a Galveston, TX facility. The incident was voluntarily disclosed to the public but the lost tube has yet to be located.

What’s scary is that, even though such events must be reported to the CDC by law, the public really has no way of knowing whether a deadly agent has been compromised, giving ample time for such a virus to spread should it be released as a weapon.

Moreover, we now have government facilities being built in and around population centers such as the Bio Safety Level 4 facility centrally located in Kansas.

In the wrong hands, one of these agents could easily be used to attack an entire population – and given the “security” of these facilities it may not be so hard to acquire one. And once they have it, it’s as simple as releasing it in a major airport, sitting back, and watching the infection spread and kill off thousands, or perhaps millions of people.

Related: Pandemic Preparedness

 


SHTF Plan – When It Hits The Fan, Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You

IT’S AIRBORNE: Human Transmission of Deadly H7N9 Virus Now Confirmed

h7n9In April of this year researches studying the H7N9 bird flu virus in China advised global governments to get prepared for the worst case scenario. According to the World Health Organization, H7N9 is one the most lethal influenza strains ever identified because it mutates eight times faster than a normal flu virus, and according to official records, has a death-to-infection ratio of about 25%.

It was initially believed that the virus could only be transmitted to humans who have had direct contact with poultry. After 36 H7N9 deaths and 131 of infections officially reported since the virus was first identified, the worst case scenario that many feared may now be on the horizon.

The Sun China Morning Post is reporting that researches have confirmed that, not only can the virus be transmitted from one human to another, but it has gone airborne.

The H7N9 bird flu virus can be transmitted not only through close contact but by airborne exposure, a team at the University of Hong Kong found after extensive laboratory experiments.

Though the virus appears to have been brought under control recently, the researchers urged the Hong Kong authorities to maintain strict surveillance, which should include not only poultry but humans and pigs.

In the study, to be published today in the journal Science, ferrets were used to evaluate the infectivity of H7N9. It was found the virus could spread through the air, from one cage to another, albeit less efficiently.

Inoculated ferrets were infected before the appearance of most clinical symptoms. This means there may be more cases than have been detected or reported.

“People may be transmitting the virus before they even know that they’ve got it,” Zhu said.

SCMP via Zero Hedge

It’s important to note that the Chinese government has never been very straight forward about statistics, especially if they involve negative perceptions of their country, so in all likelihood the H7N9 virus has infected countless others.

Though it’s been called one of the most lethal flu viruses in history by WHO, Chinese scientists have downplayed the threat by claiming the effects are “mild,” and the U.S. government has up until now made no decision on whether to move forward with a vaccine for this particular strain. Earlier reports indicate that the virus is resistant to Tamiflu, a drug commonly used to treat most flu symptoms.

H7N9 is reportedly now under control in China, but we know for a fact that the virus jumped to Taiwan in April, and it may have spread elsewhere. Given that research shows the virus can spread through the air before symptoms appear, it’s certainly possibly that an outbreak is in its preliminary phase right now.

Curiously, the United Nations reports that the virus has already cost the global economy some $ 6.5 billion in losses. Those are massive numbers given that only 131 official cases have been reported.

We’ll know soon enough if the Chinese government has controlled the outbreak among its one billion population, and if it’s taken hold in other countries. If it’s airborne, the contagion will spread like any common cold or flu.

Pandemics have been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of millions of people throughout history, and once they start they are very hard to control. With H7N9 having a mutation rate that is eight times faster than other flu viruses, it could very well become even deadlier than it is now. Moreover, it could become even more contagious over time.

The only thing we can do at this point is to wait for news as it becomes available and take preemptive steps to prepare for the possibility of a widespread outbreak.

Hattip Satori


SHTF Plan – When It Hits The Fan, Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You