Honeymoon over for US beef industry?
Distinguishing between nvCJD and sporadic CJD by EEG?
Nursing home panic?
Assorted biohazards for the 90's
Merged accounts/opinions of the show from people who did and did not see it:
I saw and taped the ABC News report. The following is a transcript formatted to capture the flavor of how the graphics subtly (or not so subtly) played into the text. Later on the late night edition of ABC World News, they ran a shortened version of the segment. The report ran approx. 3:30 minutes in its original form and approx. 2:15 minutes in its shortened form.
[Voice over]- John McKenzie
Photo of Marie and Calvin Farris (Mr. & Mrs. Calvin Farris)] Marie Farris was 63 years old when suddenly she began displaying frightening symptoms...
[Cut to Voice of Calvin Farris and pan to closeup of Marie's calm, smiling
She just barely knew her first name. She no [Cut to live interview Calvin Farris] longer could write and when she was sittin' she would look like she was lookin' off into space all the time.
[Intercut between two shot Calvin Farris and John McKenzie and mid shot Calvin Farris as Calvin continues] The doctor told us it was Alzheimers disease.
[Cut to photo of very smiling, happy Marie - voice over John McKenzie] But, her decline seemed too rapid to be Alzheimers. Within just four weeks her condition had worsened dramatically.
[Cut to photo of wild eyed, emaciated, yellow tinted skinned, visibly aged Marie - voice over continues] So the family sought a second opinion.
[Cut to outside shot of University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics - voice over continues] Here at the University of Iowa doctors reached a different conclusion.
[Cut to close up of Marie Farris' medical record indicating admission date 12/17/9 and discharge 12/20/9 without year visible - voice over continues] Marie Farris suffered from CJD, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
[pan down medical record and highlight "Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease" - new, unidentified voice over] It can be easily missed for a couple of reasons, first of all...
[Cut to interview of voice over Dr. Robert Rodnitzky - University of Iowa Hospital] the characteristic features that distinguish it from Alzheimers are often very subtle early in the course of the illness and, secondarily, not every physician will recognize those characteristic signs.
[Cut to unflattering, head shot photo of aged Marie Farris sitting in easy chair - voice over John McKenzie] The ordeal of Marie Farris raises disturbing questions about how many other mistakes have been made ...
[Cut to head shot of aged Marie Farris staring blankly lying in bed with Pomeranian dog - voice over continues] how many of the 4 million Americans diagnosed with Alzheimers
[Pan out to show half of bed and knit afgan/quilt] actually have CJD.
[Cut to mid shot of man at desk in white physician's coat making entries into record book - voice over continues] Based largely on reports from doctors around the country, health officials have maintained there only about 250 new cases of CJD in this country each year.
[Cut to cascade graphic of medical reports with barely visible/readable titles like "Diagnosis of Dementia" - voice over continues] But several autopsy studies suggest this disease has been under diagnosed.
[Cut to lab where two doctors in full gowns with eye/face shields are conducting an autopsy (body mostly shielded from view) - voice over continues] The studies show that when pathologists actually did autopsies and examined brain tissue from patients with Alzheimers and other brain disorders, they uncovered hidden cases of CJD, anywhere from about 1% to 13%.
[Cut to mid shot of John McKenzie in a lab with microscopes and lab equipment in background]
These preliminary findings suggest a public health problem is being overlooked. If larger autopsy studies at more hospitals in this country confirmed that even 1% of Alzheimers patients had CJD that would mean 40,000 cases.And each undetected case is significant because, unlike Alzheimers, CJD is infectious. [There are two published studies asserting possible transmission of Alzheimers -- webmaster]
[Cut to closeup of scrub up of shaved skull prior to brain surgery - cut out to mid shot of operating room and full scrubs personnel preparing patient - voice over John McKenzie] Even with standard sterilization practices, this lethal disease can be transmitted from patient to patient
[Cut to mid shot operating room personnel donning surgical gloves, focus on gloves - voice over continues] through
[cut to shot of surgical instruments laid out pre operation] neurosurgical instruments, as well as
[Cut to head shot of doctor in scrubs, mask and surgical glasses with magnifying inserts - voice over continues] transplants of certain brain tissue and corneas
[Cut to mid shot operating team similarly dressed conducting operation] At least 100 people have been infected this way.
[Cut to mid shot John McKenzie and Dr. Laura Manuelidis [Chair of Neurology, Yale Medical School] sitting at lab table while Dr. Manuelidis, with gloved hands, handles fixed human brain - voice over continues] Dr. Manuelidis: This part of the brain, is involved ...
[Simultaneous voice over] Dr. Laura Manuelidis, a neuropathologist at Yale Medical School, has used
[Cut to close up of brain in Dr. Manuelidis' hands] brain samples to uncover hidden cases of CJD
[Cut to mid shot Dr. Manuelidis] Dr. Manuelidis: It's a very good idea to take a closer look at Alzheimer's patients and other people who are written off as having typical senile dementias because there may be a hidden group in those patients.
[Cut to head shot of Dr. Michael Hansen of the Consumer Policy Institute of New York, tel 914 -378-2452] Michael Hansen: That's why we're saying we have to find out. Because if we find out
[Intercut to two shot Hansen and McKenzie - Hansen continues] that there is much higher CJD rates than we thought, that suggests that this explosion happened because of something and they would start to look for infectious sources.
[Cut to Dr. Manuelidis and colleague reviewing DNA sequences on backlighted viewer board - voice over John McKenzie] To start looking more closely at how
[Cut to close up of pencil pointing to DNA sequence - voice over continues] CJD might be spreading.
[Cut to more mid shot of doctors performing brain surgery - voice over continues] To look at medical supplies
[Cut to customers holding their red plastic shopping baskets while standing in front of supermarket meat/deli counter case - voice over continues] even food supplies, and answer
[Cut to mid shot photo of old, ill Marie Farris staring blankly from her bed - voice over continues] the question, "How do people like Marie Farris get this disease?"
[Pan to close up of Marie Farris' blank, old face - voice over continues] John McKenzie, ABC News, Waterloo, Iowa.
[Cut to Peter Jennings] Peter Jennings: If you would like more information about this or any of our reports on Your Health, you can reach us through e-mail. It's Health@ABC.com.
Shortened version opened with:
... better protect the food supply, it is possible the CJD may be spreading unnoticed in the United States. A look at this camoflaged killer from ABC's John McKenzie.
I was told today by a person deeply involved with ABC News that Marie Farris, the CJD victim shown on program, had worked for 20 years in an Iowa slaughterhouse, as did her husband Calvin, who is now very concerned about his own health. The slaughterhouse initially dealt with sheep but later was primarily hogs. There was no mention of beef. Recall that the pig situation has been a huge concern in the US, dating back to the late 1970's.
I was told that the death certificate made no mention of CJD but said mental deterioration. This would not be picked up by the CDC survey of course. Worse, CDC interviewed the Farris family extensively as to how long they worked at the slaughterhouse, whereabouts in the process their workstations were, did they frequently get cuts, and so on. I am not aware that this data has ever been written up in the context of occupational exposure.
Supposing that this is accurate (I have no independent confirmation but am checking the online Iowa newspapers today):
Is it not odd that ABC News knew all this but made no mention of it on the show?
And why this aggressively partisan approach from CDC? I thought they had to do with epidemiology and public health -- the name alone suggests something to do with being a center for disease control. Are they part of a cover-up?
The only point here is that a very large number of Americans watch Peter Jennings and the ABC evening news. ABC used CJD as their hook and teaser, mysterious disease maybe sweeping America and all that. Stay tuned and don't switch channels.
The two main things of interest were that they avoided all reference to BSE, mad cow disease, tainted beef, and nvCJD and concentrated instead on CJD buried in Alzheimer, saying that 1% misdiagnosis would mean 40,000 cases a year instead of 400. Great, they did their homework. There were clips of a couple of East Coast doctors, probably Manuelidis for one, talking to this effect.
There was also mention of iatrogenic CJD and surgical instruments. The segment closed with a question about food safety, subliminally aided by someone pushing a cart past the meat section of a supermarket deli. I have never seen public awareness so high on an issue -- this is a country where over half the people could not name any of the last three presidents. So they don't have to mention meat -- everyone knows. In some ways, this makes it more ominous if viewers are made aware that the powers that be are controling what they can be told.
The story was very interesting, but not too novel. Interestingly, no mention was made of BSE or the British problem or nv-CJD. If it had, given the ominous tone of the report, it would have been inflamatory. Various provocative comments were made:
"Perhaps from 1 to 13% of Alsheimer's patients actually have CJD." "Unlike Alsheimer's, CJD is infectious." [There are two papers to the contrary -- webmaster] "America could have an undiagnosed health problem."Following the Dateline NBC show on Deadly Feasts, it's clear the news has discovered TSEs. The honeymoon is over in the US. Look for recurring and increasingly provocative news shorts on these subjects.
My reading: somebody taking revenge on the Centers for Disease Control for their smugly incompetent study "showing" flat CJD incidence in the US [that ignored published work on Alzheimers], plus tweaking the beef industry's nose without giving them a handle for complaint.
The program closed by saying more information was available by emailing email@example.com -- I am trying that right now but no one has answered. ABC has a browser-breaking content-free Web site that says:
The response from emailing ABC News:
Thank you for your interest in John McKenzie's "Your Health" piece on Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. For more information on CJD you may email or write:
Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Foundation Inc. P.O. Box 611625 North Miami FL 33261-1625You can also contact the Public Reports office at the:
National Institutes of Health Phone 301-496-5924 Alt 301-496-5924 Contact Carol Rowan.If you would like a transcript or tape of a World News Tonight piece please call Journal Graphics at 800- 255-6397. Please be sure to have the date of the broadcast when you call. You can find transcripts on America On Line using the keywords ABC NEWS. Choose the "More News" icon and you'll see the (YOUR HEALTH?) board.
Also have a look at our new ABC News website.
Yesterday ABC said: "Where is the ABC News website? At this time, ABC News does not have a presence on the web, but will be launching an extensive site in the very near future. Transcripts of our news magazine programs (Nightline, Primetime Live, This Week, Turning Point and 20/20), World News Tonight broadcasts, Good Morning America and ABC News Specials are available through The Federal Document Clearing House, at the following address:
FDCH PO Box 2249 Livonia, MI 48151 (800) 913-3434"How can I obtain a videocassette of an ABC News Program? Selected segments of our newsmagazine programs are available through ABC News Video. Segments of World News Tonight, World News Now, World News This Morning, World News Saturday and World News Sunday are not available onvideocassette." You can contact their offices at the following address:
ABC News Video PO Box 2249 Livonia, MI 48151 (800) 913-3434
Answer: [provided by daughter of US victim Mary Fishler-Fisk]
According to the literature, some 20% of classic CJD cases have an atypical EEG. We have finally got the autopsy results on my mother. She had an atypical EEG. Spoingiform changes were present, but no kuru type plaques were found. So - based on the lack of kuru type plaques, it was CJD not nvCJD. Since, with the exception of age, she met the clinical symptoms of nvCJD and her personal history included trips to England, the only conclusive distinction between classic CJD and nvCJD in this case was through the autopsy results. In this case EEG was not conclusively diagnostic for classic CJD vs. nvCJD.
This only reinforces the necessity for autopsy in all cases of CJD or suspected CJD. A positive 14-3-3 protein test for CJD, which does require a spinal tap, but is minimally invasive compared to a biopsy and which is supposedly 99% accurate and was positive in my mother's case, could eliminate the need for any brain biopsy as long as an autospy was assured. It seems to me that once a test with 99% accuracy for CJD in general has come up positive, distinguishing between classic CJD and nvCJD can await the autopsy, as long as there is one.
Webmaster comments: it is hard to find two cases of CJD that are really all that similar in their case history, even the same mutation in the same family (eg, Brain 118 1565-1571 1995). I would say that the attempt to create new disease names (eg FFI or GSS) for every mutant genotype + background genotype borders on total silliness. An example of this is how "GSS" is totally unrecognizable in some codon 129 configurations (MolBrain Res 44 147-150 1997).
There is nothing new here -- we have seen it all decades ago in the hemoglobinopathies, of which several hundred have been described. It is one thing to affect a free-floating single-purpose cell and another to affect a highly differentiated organ like the brain. We are far more sensitive to subtle neural disease variations than we are about distinguishing variations of 'tired blood.'
Perhaps 5 dimorphisms [more or less harmless polymorphisms, two variants) have been described so far in the prion mRNA. This potentially gives 32 haplotypes and 1024 more or less "normal" prion genotypes -- so far. I would be very surprised to learn that the genotype had been substantially determined in as many as 0.1% of the CJD cases. In fact, we are still wondering about such basics as whether the human gene has two exons or three (Brain Research 751 265-274 1997).
And of course this is a protein that interacts with a large number of other proteins, each having their own variability. Prusiner's group described 400 possible covalent variants for the two attached carbohydrates.
I am not sure what Roland means by non-infectivity of familial CJD. It's not a moot issue because of pooled dura mater, pituitaries, blood products, and all that. Not all types of familial CJD have even been checked for transmissibility by cross-species intra-cerebral injection. Not all amyloid has been checked to see whether the normal allele is present (recruitable) -- in some cases the bad allele may only be able to recruit itself. I doubt very much whether Y145stop would be transmissible by the oral route because of necessity it lacks the membrane anchoring GPI component, so it cannot migrate up a neural process.
"I worked with a patient who had Jakob-Creudtzfeldt disease,this patient arrived at the nursing home from a local hospital that received the test results from the Atlanta Disease Control Centers and also from a diseaes control center in California.We received this patient within a week of the diagnosis, as soon a the hospital found this patient to have this condition, she was put on strict isolation, they tried to alter the records on the patients chart prior to arrival, and our director of nursing was never told of the diagnosis prior to arrival, if she had she never would have accepted her, you see, this is a very contagious disease, there is NO known cure!
This woman 's history showed that she appeared healthy up until her sudden illness. We were told not to even tell the funeral home of this diagnosis, during her entire stay, her doctor never entered her room, her family members would stand outside the door and look in, we also found out that a lab pathologis in a nearby town had stuck himself after performing a lab test on a similar patient and he dien shortly afterwards. A local teaching hospital had asked that her body be sent there after death so that the medical students would have an opportunity to study the body, and the family was willing, but the university would not pay for transport, so she was buried in 24 hours.
Her room was sealed for over one month, every item in her room was wrapped in plastic and sent out with her room waste. the room was sterilized, repainted, her room waste was sent out by a special garbage collection. Only a doctor who specializes in contagious rare diseases can give you the straight answers on this deadly disease. Most of our nursing staff quit rather that help take care of this patient. None of the supervisors would even go near her room! It is considered a very dangerous and contageous disease, with no known cure. "
Commentary by assorted people:
An amazing tale ... but not all that unlike what happened with that young victim from N.Ireland, where they dug the grave to twice the depth, etc. so it may not be that far-fetched.
At Rep. Shay's Congressional hearing earlier this year, one of the experts [Dr. Frank Bastian???] testified about lingering fear in the medical community. He told this story: "I received a call from a physician, a neurologist, in Florida. And he said I have a patient I believe has Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. The hospital will not admit the patient. If I got the patient admitted, the neurosurgeon would not biopsy it, and the pathologist would never autopsy the case." The official committee transcript is available by now. It's the Subcommittee on Human Resources, House Committee on Gov't Reform and Oversight. Hearing date was Jan 29, 1997.
A number of years ago I worked in a state hospital (California) where CJD, Bubonic Plague, etc. patients were cared for when other hospitals could not, or did not want to, care for them. The standard procedure for these and other diseases that were unidentified or risky was to isolate the patient in a locked room. Those entering put on full greens, face masks, hair covers, booties, etc. On leaving the garments were pulled off inside out with the help of others in full greens and both were put in a seperate marked bag and then burned. I never saw a visitor to these patients and they may have not been allowed. Doctors seldom visited and most care was simply supportive.
While there was an attempt to maintain reasonable patient care, the problems with the system almost dictated that it was minimal. Certainly the situation itself impacted the recovery of any patient that was conscious enough to have feelings of loneliness, abandonment, etc.
The account of Nursing Home Overeaction to CJD certainly does seem excessive and disturbing. If it is true, what does the supposed record changing and hush up of the actual diagnois say for the CDC's death certificate surveillance for CJD?
Secondly, just to put some perspective on how the medical community treats CJD infectivity, I cite my mother's case.
While in the hospital for diagnostic testing, once CJD was the prime diagnosis, the staff began taking precautions and became more anxious to have her discharged. A previously considered diagnostic brain biopsy was abandoned, more due to possibilities of infectious transmission to surgical personnel than invasiveness of the procedure to the patient. In retrospect, this was a good medical decision because of the recent availability and performance of the 14-3-3 prion test on spinal fluid. However, I believe it may have been made for the wrong reasons. She was discharged before the results of that test were known.
She was admitted to a suburban nursing home with a 99% positive diagnosis for CJD and placed on an Alzheimer's ward in a three patient room. By this time she was nonambulatory. There was never any question of separating her from the nursing home staff or population. The nursing home took precautions with her similar to those they would use with an AIDs patient--use of rubber gloves and disposable eating utensils and discarding anything contaminated with bodily fluids as biohazard material.
Given the lack of concrete knowledge about the means of transmission and the long incubation period, we did not feel that these precautions were unreasonable, nor did they impact on the quality of the patient's care. The facility was relieved when the family elected to do the patient's laundry, and advised us to use chlorine bleach. I'm not sure how the nursing home handled bed linens.
Given the potential for from 1% to 13% (I use ABC News' figures here, but my own research of the literature does seem to confirm them) of hidden CJD in Alzheimer's and other dementias, one has to wonder how many of the other patients on the Alzheimers ward might have been just as infective as a confirmed CJD patient. I mention this because, while visiting in the facility, another patient fell (something anyone who has cared for ambulatory patients suffering dementia recognizes as almost impossible to prevent 100% and still leave the patient some dignity and freedom of movement), cut their head and, as with all head wounds, produced a large pool of blood. I saw no extraordinary measures taken to prevent disease transmission from this blood. This spring based on transgenic mouse blood infectivity studies, the WHO recommended that anyone at risk for CJD should not be permitted to donate blood. Food for thought.
I got your message today about Jakob-Crutzfeltd disease. It >did happen and I am
still curious why this occurred; this woman had a urinary catheter, a colostomy,
a feeding tube, iv's and did I mention that her doctors never once came to
actually visit her, he returned calls and that's it! Her family also stated
to me that while she was she in the local hospital here, that they were
actually going into her room the first couple of weeks prior to them putting
her in isolation, that numerous relatives and small children had been allowed
to kiss her, that about 10 years prior to this, she had abdominal/surgery
and that they even asked if the disease had been passed on by one of her surgeons,
they believed that the MD's had served in war duty over seas and that this
virus had been dormant all these years, before it struck, they told me that
information received was very sketchy.
The patients were very nervous about this patient being on the unit, because
upon her initial arrival she was NOT put on strict isolation and a lot of the
CNA's had taken care of her personal hygeine, only after another nurse called
me to help her decipher something covered with 'white-out' on one of her lab
sheets and when we noticed the words' Center of Disease. Control' we aleredt the DON
and did our own investigation, we found out that no other facility in this
area would take her, the hospital refused to re-admit her for any reason,
and ours was a fairly new nursing home with lots of empty beds, with all new
people in and very vulnerable.
Biohazards in the 90's: coming to a neighborhood near you
I got your message today about Jakob-Crutzfeltd disease. It >did happen and I am still curious why this occurred; this woman had a urinary catheter, a colostomy, a feeding tube, iv's and did I mention that her doctors never once came to actually visit her, he returned calls and that's it! Her family also stated to me that while she was she in the local hospital here, that they were actually going into her room the first couple of weeks prior to them putting her in isolation, that numerous relatives and small children had been allowed to kiss her, that about 10 years prior to this, she had abdominal/surgery and that they even asked if the disease had been passed on by one of her surgeons, they believed that the MD's had served in war duty over seas and that this virus had been dormant all these years, before it struck, they told me that information received was very sketchy.
The patients were very nervous about this patient being on the unit, because upon her initial arrival she was NOT put on strict isolation and a lot of the CNA's had taken care of her personal hygeine, only after another nurse called me to help her decipher something covered with 'white-out' on one of her lab sheets and when we noticed the words' Center of Disease. Control' we aleredt the DON and did our own investigation, we found out that no other facility in this area would take her, the hospital refused to re-admit her for any reason, and ours was a fairly new nursing home with lots of empty beds, with all new people in and very vulnerable.
Both chemical and biological agents lend themselves to covert use in sabotage...As one pursues the possibilities of such covert uses, one discovers that the scenarios resemble that in which the components of a nuclear weapon are smuggled into New York and assembled in the basement of the Empire State Building... once that possibility is recognized to exist, about all one can do is worry about it...indeed, insofar as lethal chemical and biological weapons are concerned, all arguments for possessing them finally come down to the basic assertion that if the Soviets or some other potential aggressor possession them, then we must have them too...In essence, then, the real military effectiveness of lethal CWB, in terms of inflicting causalities, will accrue to the force that initiates use against an unwarned enemy...¾ (1)
The Chemical Weapons Convention, banning the production, stockpiling or use of chemical weapons went into affect on April 29, 1997. Eighty-seven countries, including the USA, have begun dismantling their Chemical weapons stockpiles. Maybe I should feel safer, but I don¼t; neither should you. My anxiety comes from knowing that chemicals were never a serious threat in the first place. Its not gas that we need fear but biologicals - bacteria, minute organisms created in small labs, cheaply, using uncomplicated and well known processes, the poor man¼s atom bomb.
A few days before the chemical warfare ban was to take effect, a mysterious package arrived at the Washington D.C office of B¼nai B¼rith, located a short distance from the White House. The package contained a broken petri dish. Fearing the worst, several blocks were cordoned off by authorities and one hundred workers were quarantined for nine hours until the contents of the dish were analyzed. This particular incident turned out to be a cruel hoax but the reality of the event was not lost on the participants.
The officials on the scene were hit with the realization that it¼s only a matter of time before a „germ bomb¾ explodes in our midst. We are not prepared. In drills conducted last year in major cities, firefighters moved into contaminated areas without any protective gear and health workers were overwhelmed and unable to give adequate care. The U.S. Office of Technology Assessment theorized that a crop dusting plane, spewing anthrax spores over Washington D.C. could kill three million people. A medical „war game¾ conducted by the National Institute of Health to simulate the spread of air born Ebola concluded that there were no agencies, national or international, that could prevent this type of epidemic disease threat from spreading from a small initial location to every continent in the world within two months.(2)
In spite of all efforts to portray bio-warfare microbiologists as careful, meticulous scientists, there is a surprising amount of serendipitous, chancy behavior. Take this account of the discovery of the Ebola (Marburg) virus by Dr. Frederick A. Murphy who was then the director of the National Center for Infectious Diseases at the CDC in Atlanta. „The specimen had come back from Zaire to the CDC in Atlanta in less than optimal condition, with the tubes in the box broken. Anyone else would have taken a look and put the whole box in the autoclave, but Dr. Patricia Webb, wearing gloves, gown and mask, squeezed a few drops of fluid out of the cotton surrounding the broken tubes. That was the material the virus was isolated from. It was placed in tissue culture (monkey kidney cells) for a couple of days then I got a drop of the tissue culture fluid and prepared a specimen for the electron microscope. When I saw what I was sure was Marburg, I shut the electron microscope down and went back to the room in which I had prepared the specimen. This was in the days when hoods were a lot more primitive. I "chloroxed the hell" out of the place where I had done the preparation and carried my discard pan with gown and gloves etc. to the autoclave and ran it.¾(3)
Nowadays, many diseases can be produced on an industrial scale using readily available resources. Trained technicians are easily able to culture large quantities of bacteria using methods formulated in U.S. bio-warfare labs; over a hundred Department of Defense funded laboratories are operating on campuses or in industrial parks across our nation. Our collective ignorance about participating in bio-warfare research is alarming and our seeming innocence, hypocritical. There are serious consequences in allowing our defense establishment and the scientific community to become involved in this grisly business. Shoddy scientific techniques, risky protocols, and the repressive secrecy that prevents peer review and free exchange of opinion are some of the perilous drawbacks. (4)
Almost all bio-warfare experiments are classified but those few that have become public should be enough to convince us that scientists doing this research need a new moral compass. Sixty-five years ago, four hundred black sharecroppers in Macon County, Alabama were chosen to participate in a bio-warfare experiment sponsored by the scientific community. The main factor these men shared in common, aside from being poor and illiterate, was syphilis. They were tested yearly during the years 1932 to 1972 by the public health service and were never told of their illness, only that they were being treated for „bad blood¾. The purpose of the study was to follow the long term effects of syphilis on the human body. Having no idea they were carrying around a deadly bacteria, the men tried to conduct their lives in a normal fashion.
Even in the 1940¼s when a penicillin cure became available, the men were still denied treatment. The impact of four hundred syphilitic men socializing in a relatively closed rural community can never be measured. When the experiment was terminated in 1972, fifty surviving wives and twenty surviving children were still infected with syphilis. Articles appeared in respected scientific journals during the forty years of the study reporting the progress of these untreated men. A belated apology from the government and ten million dollars to the six thousand survivors seems little recompense for the suffering and torment these folks endured. This experiment also spread syphilis far and wide throughout the US. Biologics cannot be contained.
There is a tendency in the scientific community to first ignore and then ridicule information or opinions that are contrary to prevailing beliefs; but a few balky doctors and health care workers have voiced their concern, often to a deaf public and media. Dr. Alan Cantwell M.D. represents this minority when he states: „Does the government secretly experiment with people? Of course, it does. This is not a paranoid fantasy. There is circumstantial evidence that shows AIDS is a man-made disease with a genetically engineered virus that came out of a cancer virus Bio-warfare laboratory. It is a commonly believed, particularly in the Black community, that AIDS is a secret government genocide plot to eliminate „undesirables.¾ The major media never mention books written on the subject of AIDS as man-made, nor will they quote physicians, like myself and others, who publicly promote this idea. Without discussion, the media simply dismiss the idea as paranoid, or as right or left-wing, or as tied to extremist or terrorist or Militia groups.¾ (5)
To make matters worse, acute scientific mistakes are glossed over or covered up. Henrietta Lack died in 1965 of uterine cancer. She gained dubious immortality through her cancer cells for they were the first cells to be grown in perpetuity in tissue cultures. Before HELA (Henrietta Lack) cells, only one or two divisions were possible. The HELA cells were sent world wide. It¼s not well known but even during the peak of the „cold war¾, Soviet and U.S scientists were collaborating on bio-warfare and cancer virus research. In 1972 the Russians sent us six cell lines they thought contained cells with cancer causing viruses. As it turned out, these cell lines were all contaminated with HELA cells that contained monkey viruses.
Dr. Walter Nelson Reese had the responsibility of keeping the cell lines in the U.S. cataloged. After the incident with the Russians, he decided to examine all cell lines. He discovered, much to his amazement, that over a third of them were HELA contaminated, probably when culture lids were opened and aerosolized particles would float around the lab and sometimes drop into another cell line. The aggressive HELA cells, often carrying viruses from other species, would soon take over a culture. Instead of rewarding these findings, Dr. Reese¼s program was defunded and he now runs an art studio. (6)
Doctors Garth and Nancy Nicolson are prime examples of what can happen when one questions authority. They have been hounded from prestigious jobs and threatened, both physically and professionally; their labs have been vandalized, irreplaceable specimens destroyed, correspondence intercepted and phones tapped. Why? Because they had the audacity to suggest, and evidence to indicate that many sick gulf war vets are suffering from exposure to a bio-warfare, weaponized organism, a mycoplasma named incognitus.
Mycoplasma are the smallest and perhaps the oldest life forms. These cell wall deficient bacteria, the cause of „walking pneumonia¾, have been implicated in a variety of other „emerging¾ diseases. Lyme disease is a mycoplasma spirochete dispersed by ticks and thought to originate at the Plum Island bio-warfare center. It escaped to the island¼s huge bird refuge and then across to New England, where it is still a major cause of illness. From there, the mainland states were contaminated via the migratory bird routes. A form of mycoplasma, a spiroplasma, is also implicated in Mad Cow Disease but is being ignored by most BSE researchers. Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Alzheimers are also being investigated as possibly caused by mycoplasmic type bacteria.
Mycoplasma are thought by many to be rather fragile, but nothing could be further from the truth. They tolerate extreme fluctuations in temperature, lay dormant in the soil for generations and survive the harshest elements; only drano-like chemicals kill them effectively outside the body. Under normal circumstances our immune system efficiently deals with mycoplasmas and other life-threatening bacteria; we evolved from this complicated, membrane enclosed piece of DNA and up until now have developed defenses that keep these critters in check. The new strains seem different. Difficult to spot in tissue, they do not react to normal bacterial tests. There has been no sure way to test for these organisms in living tissue since they are often not a problem until the immune system is exposed to stress. The symptoms are flu-like but to the extreme: headaches, sore joints, rashes, chest pain, heart problems, and neurological disorders. Dementia is common in advanced stages of these gruesome afflictions. (7)
The Nicolsons¼ test is able to identify the presence of mycoplasma in living tissue. The normal way to determine infection is to inject a lab animal with tissue or cultured material and wait for the lab animal to develop the target disease. The Nicolsons claim that a method they have invented named Gene Sequencing seems to do a much better and more accurate job. Labor intensive, thus expensive, Gene Sequencing has been peer reviewed and found to be credible and dependable. Government scientists and the Defense Department refuse to even consider the validity of this approach because if the Nicolsons are correct, and the mycoplasmic infections sickening the Gulf War vets are found to have originated in government funded bio-warfare labs, these programs will be exposed as the dangerous and shortsighted escapades they have become.
The USA supplies much of the know how and advanced technology used in this deadly endeavor. Microbiologists from every country study at our universities and learn all the necessary techniques needed to establish successful germ labs. Scientists from the USA were working with Iraq¼s microbiologists on bio-warfare just weeks before the Gulf War, and Iraq was importing highly toxic bacteria and viruses from companies in the USA. By 1990 they were manufacturing large quantities of botulism toxin and anthrax bacteria.
The Army command knew of the possibility that our forces could be exposed to toxic agents while stationed in Iraq; the compulsory inoculations, with multiple vaccines, indicates foreknowledge. But the Command didn¼t notify the troops about what was about to happen; they were participating in a huge experiment without their informed consent. They still have not been informed and most of the information surrounding the inoculations has been classified, the contents of the vaccines have still to be positively identified. One of the doctors who complained and refused to cooperate because she felt using force was a violation of the Geneva Protocols was court marshaled and given eighteen months in federal prison. (8)
„The nation¼s historical record on bio-warfare is replete with subterfuge, reckless experimentation, and rogue actions and is punctuated by violations of both domestic policy and international and national norms... the modern record is no more reassuring...If modern biology is to be a tool for human benefit, not the seed of our destruction, then all its facets, including military applications, must be opened to new levels of public understanding and to careful public scrutiny.¾ (9)
The perfect bio-warfare agent would be similar to that used to kill and control the rabbits in Australia: the virus Myxoma . It is ninety percent fatal for rabbits, but is harmless to almost everything else. The ideal agent would also be suitable for mass production, and contagious through the air, with a short incubation period, but still able to survive in the environment. Medical defense should be difficult, and counter measures available so that friendly forces could be inoculated, but like the rabbits, the enemy wouldn¼t have access to a vaccine. Most of all, the pestilence needs to produce terror and demoralization in its victims.
The average person has the impression that the USA has long since stopped hazardous biological experimentation and has destroyed its stockpiles of biological weapons. In 1975 Richard Nixon signed the Geneva Protocol which among other things states: „Each State party to this Convention undertakes never in any circumstances to develop, produce, stockpile or otherwise acquire or retain: (1) Microbial or other biological agents, or toxins whatever their origin or method of production, of types and in quantities that have no justification for prophylactic, protective or other peaceful purposes; (2) Weapons, equipment or means of delivery designed to use such agents or toxins for hostile purposes or in armed conflict.¾
This straight forward language makes the overall impression quite clear. Our country should not be mucking around with biological weapons. We have ignored this law since its signing. The main way we circumvent our legal obligations is to maintain that we have defensive reasons for all the research, but there is absolutely no difference between offensive research and defensive public health research. Our signing of the law was a sham and a sop to those scientists who foresaw the predicament we were getting ourselves into, but were mostly ignored. They were put off by statements like this: „ Those who regard themselves as guardians of the public safety must count not only the speculative hazards of these marginal situations, but also the costs to the public health of impeding their (biological weapons) investigation.¾
These protocols may now be meaningless in an age of new technologies; advances in rDNA and cloning could produce a deadly new agent almost overnight, with relative ease. Recombinant DNA is a process known to most biologists and is easily accomplished in well equipped labs. Bacteria contain plasmids which are tiny pieces of DNA. This DNA is much smaller than, and independent of, the DNA contained in the chromosomes. The plasmids are removed from the bacteria and then sliced apart using enzymes. A virus gene that has already been removed from the virus is fitted into the gap in the plasmid. Then this altered plasmid is inserted into a bacteria, where it can perform any number of tasks. As a bio-warfare bacteria the new DNA could manufacture toxins that would poison the body or cause disruptions in vital organs, like the brain. If mycoplasmas were the bacteria used in the transfer, they would be almost impossible to detect. Mycoplasmas have the ability to blend with the cell wall of the host and then move deeply into the nucleus of the cell where they stay hidden, waiting to emerge when the immune system weakens.
Mycoplasmas play only a small part in this tragic production. Any virus or bacteria that could cause a disease has or will be, or is now being studied and considered as a possible warfare agent. All means of transmission have been deliberated and researched and the stage is set for an emerging crisis. We could stop this before it¼s too late. We only need to lift the cloak of secrecy that hides the Frankensteinian nightmares we¼ve created in our sequestered laboratories. When we see clearly what is happening in these government funded labs, we¼ll shut them down. (10)
If we don¼t, we¼re in for more trouble. An example of just how reckless scientists have become can be seen in a new threat that has appeared. Not some „emerging¾ virus, stumbled upon during a trek through previously unknown environs, but in lung tissue from a soldier who died in 1918 . During the late spring of that year a strange and lethal new disease began appearing at military installations across the US. By September this infection, known as Spanish flu, rapidly spread across the country and then to every corner of the world. It was over by year¼s end but with twenty million dead it became the deadliest plague the world has ever known. The virus that caused this pestilence has not been available for studying. But now, using modern techniques, the eighty year old lung tissue that sat undisturbed in Washington D.C. has revealed fragments of the virus, enough so that the DNA sequences may soon be known. The CDC is also planning a trip to Norway to study the remains of seven miners who also died of the Spanish flu. They hope to find an intact virus, but if successful they may unleash this possible pandemic. Is it worthwhile to take these kinds of risks? Regretfully, we will have no say in the matter; it¼s classified and beyond discussion by mere mortals.
The elimination of all bio-warfare research and testing, even if it is theoretically defensive in nature, should be the goal of the scientific community. The public can apply only so much pressure; it is the scientists themselves who must sever their connections to the growing menace of bio-warfare. The easiest way would be by refusing to work on secret science. There are no credible justifications to continue these explorations and only scientists have the prestige, influence and status to redirect the attitudes and practices of their fellow scientists.
(1) Ivan L. Bennett, Jr., former Deputy Director of the U.S Office of Science and Technology before a symposium on chemical and biological warfare, sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences. Proc. N.A.S. 1970;65:250-279. Taken from Emerging Viruses:AIDS and Ebola.
(2) Lee Bowman, America Gets a Taste of Chemical Terror; April 26, 1997 Scripps Howard News Service. A well written news report; one of the few I¼ve read that tries to point out the significant danger of bio-warfare.
(3) Dr. Frederick A. Murphy Talks about the Ebola Virus; An Interview by Sean Henahan, Access Excellence: a WWW site that supplies information about emerging diseases and viruses
(4)Dr. Garth Nicolson; From a discussion recorded by Gustav Grossman, 7-28-97
(5) This is from an interview I conducted, about a year ago, with Dr. Cantwell for my column in the Sonoma County Free Press. The Tuskegee syphilis experiment, funded by the Center for Disease Control, is well documented in Dr. Cantwell¼s writings and in numerous other sources as well. Dr. Cantwell has written two books on the genesis of the HIV: AIDS and the Doctors of Death & Queer Blood. Both are excellent. He has also written about the ability of bacteria to cause disease in the Cancer Microbe.
(6) This also is well documented information. Michael Gold¼s Conspiracy of Cells shows clearly the type of scientific errors that can occur on a regular basis, even in well run labs. Another look at scientific Snafus and downright skullduggery is the brilliantly researched Emerging Viruses:AIDS and Ebola, Nature, Accident or Genocide? by Leonard Horowitz. There is no need to distort or fabricate information concerning bio-warfare; the truth is there for all to see.
(7) I had previously researched the nature of mycoplasmas and spiroplasmas for an article I wrote on Transmissible Spongiform Encephlopathy : Mad Cows & Mad Scientists; FLATLAND #14. or Sonoma County Free Press. Mycoplasma type organisms are poorly understood, even by most scientists because they are so difficult to culture. They are often ignorantly discounted as the cause of disease. This could prove to be a fatal mistake for us all.
(8)From recorded conversations by Gustav Grossman 6-23-96. The Eight Myths of Operation Desert Storm & Gulf War Syndrome by Garth L. Nicolson, Ph.D., and Nancy L. Nicolson, Ph.D. The Institute for Molecular Medicine, P. O. Box 52470, Irvine, California 92619-2470 USA .
(9)From the introduction to Gene Wars:Military Control Over the New Genetic Technologies by Charles Piller and Dr. Keith Yamamoto.
(10)Much of the above information can be found in Gene Wars . This is an important look at our government¼s bio-warfare program, the rationale and motives. It is also a plea to their fellow scientists to take a long, hard look at the pitfalls of continuing this dangerous activity. Written in 1986, it predicts clearly the type of problems that might arise, just as they did four years later during the Gulf War. Too bad we didn¼t listen.