Wednesday, April 22, 2009

fort detrick disease samples may be missing

fort detrick disease samples may be missingfrom frederick news-post: Army criminal investigators are looking into the possibility that disease samples are missing from biolabs at Fort Detrick. As first reported in today's edition of The Frederick News-Post by columnist Katherine Heerbrandt, the investigators are from the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division unit at Fort Meade. Chad Jones, spokesman for Fort Meade, said CID is investigating the possibility of missing virus samples from the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases. He said the only other detail he could provide is that the investigation is ongoing. Fort Detrick does not have its own CID office, Jones said, which is why Fort Meade's CID was brought in. Jones said he could not comment on when the investigation started. CID is responsible for investigating crimes where the Army is, or may be, a party of interest, according to the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command website. USAMRIID is the Army's top biodefense lab, where researchers study pathogens including Ebola, anthrax and plague.

In February, USAMRIID halted all its research into these and other diseases, known as "select agents" following the discovery of virus samples that weren't listed in its inventory. The institute's commander, Col. John Skvorak, ordered research halted while workers conducted a complete inventory of the institute's select agents. That inventory is nearly completed, though the exact end date isn't known yet, said Caree Vander Linden, USAMRIID spokeswoman. Vander Linden said she didn't know about the CID investigation and referred questions to the CID's head public affairs office. There is no indication whether the CID investigation is connected to USAMRIID's re-inventorying of its select agent stocks.

update1: army biolab's missing vials may never be found
(which, oddly, isn't that scary)

from danger room: Vials of a potentially harmful pathogen have gone missing at Fort Detrick, the Army's main biodefense lab. But don't freak out. The samples of Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis (VEE) virus are relatively small. The Army has found "no evidence yet of criminal misconduct," the Washington Post reports. And the virus usually causes only "a mild flulike illness" - although "brain inflammation and death" are possible, too. "It has potential for use as a biological weapon but is far less lethal than some other agents the lab works with." And that's the real thing to keep in consideration. This isn't anthrax, it's a relatively non-lethal biological agent. Yes, it is highly infectious and easily aerosolized. Yes, that makes VEE a good candidate for military applications. And yes, as a virus, once a person is infected, there is no cure; like the flu, you have to ride out the effects. But it's not really a mass casualty tool, if you're a terrorist looking for lots of bodies..."We'll probably never know exactly what happened," one Army official tells the Post. "It could be the freezer malfunction. It could be they never existed."

update2: army nearly done with probe of fort detrick pathogen lab

update3: detrick missing venezuelan equine encephalitis samples;
21 polo ponies from venezuela died at event in florida

from cryptogon: According to CBS News, the people investigating the deaths of the horses in Florida are focusing on the possibility that a tainted batch of a vitamin supplement called Biodyl might be to blame. All of the horses that died received the supplement. The five horses that didn’t receive the Biodyl are fine. Ok. Maybe that’s it. But… Would you believe that Fort Detrick is missing three vials of Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis? The U.S. Army has launched an investigation into the disappearance of the vials from the lab. Biodyl is made by a company called Merial, which is a joint venture between Merck and Aventis. Merial produces pharmaceutical products and vaccines for livestock, pets and wildlife. Are the two incidents related? I have absolutely no idea.

update4: pharmacy made mistake in horse drug

update5: supplement suspected in death of polo horses
from ap: Twenty-one prized polo horses that mysteriously died before one of the sport’s top championships were given a supplement that likely caused their deaths, the leader of the Venezuelan-owned team told an Argentine newspaper.

flashbacks: miltech: biolabs, spysats, germs & cern, daily dose of terror: drills, darpa, sims & dew & anthrax updates: ivins, labs & hatfill's predictive programming

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