Ok so this is a press release, but it makes the case that emerging strains of tuberculosis could be used effectively in bioterror attacks. From PR Newswire:
"BOCA RATON, Fla., May 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- It sounds crazy at first, but Dr. Kanti Daya, a credentialed, respected infectious disease specialist, believes that new strains of tuberculosis (TB) could be a devastating weapon in the hands of suicide terrorists.
"I am convinced that the absence of a viable program against tuberculosis being used a weapon compromises our state of national security," says Dr. Kanti.
Dr. Kanti isn't the only one sounding the alarm. An Interpol official warned of a bioterror threat, based on evidence from captured terrorists. And the CIA has listed TB as a potential bioterror weapon.
Despite widespread belief that tuberculosis has been conquered, deadly new outbreaks have recently been reported in England and South Africa. A recent AP article cited one man in Phoenix who has been locked up because he is infected with a "virtually untreatable" strain of tuberculosis, a strain that the WHO has been warning the public about.
"At least one-third of the world-two billion people-is infected with TB. Here in the U.S. we barely hear about these diseases, but ... we're starting to feel their impact because of immigrants," says Dr. Kanti.
Tuberculosis has been dubbed "Captain of the Men of Death," an apt sobriquet as the disease kills two million people each year-almost four people per minute.
"The disease is communicated via airborne droplets. It has no color, odor or heat content that would alert you to avoid breathing. For example, an effective infection with anthrax requires between 8,000-10,000 particles. TB infection only requires an inoculum of 2-3 particles," explains Dr. Kanti."
Well, of course, 2 or 3 particles innoculating a human and causing a serious illness is a bit of a stretch, but XDR-TB does exist and it appears to be encroaching on the USA -- this is a serious matter of public health. Even worse, its quite feasible to easily procure some regular old killed-by-penicillin TB and kill culture after culture with various antibiotics until you end up with some XDR-TB. However, that scheme sounds a little too crazy and dangerous for even terrorists to attempt.
Maybe BARDA can get some people to get off their asses and come up with a real TB vaccine. That would be nice, and also maybe a mumps vaccine that actually works after you hit 20.
Which reminds me I really should get my MDaT booster...