October 06, 2003

The What If I'd Like to Know About

So, there was one vial of botulinum Okra B found in Iraq. Ok, let's ask some questions to get at the truth instead of hyperventilating one one side or another.

1. Is this stuff readily available? Is this the stuff you can commonly find in soil all over the US or something a bit rarer and more deadly? In both cases it should have been declared to the UN inspectors but what are we really dealing with here?
2. If the BW scientist who had this in his house got fake ID and flew into the US with it, how long would it take for him to grow enough from one vial to create enough toxin for a 10,000 mass casualty level event?
3. In such an endeavor, would the equipment he would have needed to purchase have been on any controlled access list or available from any appropriate supply shop? Is that the same answer for the equipment needed for both aerosol and ingested forms?
4. Aside from bringing the stuff in, up to the point where he actually poisoned people, would he have broken any laws in the US?

And finally, and most importantly,

5. Why haven't the paid, professional media, especially the science and medicine beat reporters, answered all these questions already.

Maybe I've missed it, but there seems to be a distinct lack of basic reporting going on as to how dangerous that one vial actually is. Alongside all that speculation and the "aha! gotcha!" game, you'd think that they'd devote a reasonable amount of time to outlining what a bunch of guys working as waiters at a food service company could do with the toxin produced by these bacteria if they were in charge of food at a major sports stadium or a large state school system.

Posted by TMLutas at October 6, 2003 07:08 PM