CASE CLOSED … what really happened in the 2001 anthrax attacks?

* Dr. Ivins wrote an email dated October 4, 2001 suggesting explanation of inhalational anthrax as due to “tromping around some dusty field area”

Posted by Lew Weinstein on August 10, 2011

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9 Responses to “* Dr. Ivins wrote an email dated October 4, 2001 suggesting explanation of inhalational anthrax as due to “tromping around some dusty field area””

  1. DXer said

    On October 4, 2001 at 9:57 p.m., Dr. Ivins was surfing the internet. GAO should obtain any and all records relating to his use of computers during September and October 2001 period and permit the public to see the best evidence of how he spent his time. About 10 p.m. on October 4, 2001 Dr. Ivins was sending a long email suggesting a best guess based on news reports — as I recall, the best guess of the HHS Secretary was that Stevens had contracted anthrax from drinking water from a stream. Why were we subjected to bullshit spin and withholding of documents instead of the contemporaneous computer records? WIth modern computer forensics, the records that should exist go way beyond mere saved emails — to what was viewed on the computer at what time.

  2. DXer said

    Deadly cargo may soon leave Albany
    Anthrax bacteria may be going to Pittsburgh from bankrupt area lab
    By Larry rulison Business writer
    Published 12:00 a.m., Thursday, August 11, 2011

    ALBANY — Some of the world’s deadliest biological agents — including bacteria responsible for anthrax and the plague — may be moved out of an Albany research lab next week.

    “That is still up in the air,” said Gregory Mascitti, Ordway’s bankruptcy attorney.

    Read more: http://www.timesunion.com/business/article/Deadly-cargo-may-soon-leave-Albany-1846645.php#ixzz1UiHa5w70

  3. DXer said

    Jeanne Guillemin, author of the forthcoming AMERICAN ANTHRAX: Fear, Crime, and the Investigation of the Nation’s Deadliest Bioterror Attack, wrote an earlier book about the investigation of the Sverdlosk incident in 1979.

    It was called Anthrax: The Investigation of a Deadly Outbreak. She is a sociologist.

    http://web.mit.edu/ssp/people/guillemin/fellow_guillemin.html

    “Jeanne Guillemin’s training in sociology and anthropology has led to her involvement in issues regarding infectious diseases and biological weapons. She is the author of Anthrax: The Investigation of a Deadly Outbreak (University of California Press, 1999), which documents the inquiry into the controversial cause of the 1979 Sverdlovsk anthrax outbreak. Her next book was Biological Weapons: The History of State-sponsored Programs and Contemporary Bioterrorism (Columbia University Press, 2005). She has been a delegate to the annual Pugwash Working Group on the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions, has taught in the SSP course, “Confronting Bioterrorism,” and is a member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on WMD. Her latest book is American Anthrax: Fear, Crime, and the Investigation of the Nation’s Deadliest Bioterrorist Attack (Macmillan/Henry Holt, 2011).”

    This blog expects to have a review of the book next week.

    But the first order of business before that will be newly released FOIA documents.

  4. DXer said

    Biosecurity and Bioterrorism: Biodefense Strategy, Practice, and Science
    Public Response to an Anthrax Attack: Reactions to Mass Prophylaxis in a Scenario Involving Inhalation Anthrax from an Unidentified Source

    http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/abs/10.1089/bsp.2011.0005

    To cite this article:
    Gillian SteelFisher, Robert Blendon, Laura J. Ross, Blanche C. Collins, Eran N. Ben-Porath, Mark M. Bekheit and Johanna R. Mailhot. Biosecurity and Bioterrorism: Biodefense Strategy, Practice, and Science. -Not available-, ahead of print. doi:10.1089/bsp.2011.0005.
    Online Ahead of Print: August 5, 2011

    Gillian SteelFisher,
    Robert Blendon,
    Laura J. Ross,
    Blanche C. Collins,
    Eran N. Ben-Porath,
    Mark M. Bekheit, and
    Johanna R. Mailhot

    Gillian K. SteelFisher, PhD, MSc, is a Research Scientist and Assistant Director, Harvard Opinion Research Program; Mark M. Bekheit, JD, is a Research Assistant; and Johanna R. Mailhot, MSc, is a Research Specialist; all are in the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts. Robert J. Blendon, ScD, is Professor of Health Policy and Political Analysis, Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Boston and Cambridge, MA. Laura J. Ross, MPH, is Health Communication Specialist, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response, Division of Strategic National Stockpile, Atlanta, Georgia. Blanche C. Collins, PhD, MHSE, is Health Education Specialist, Division of STD Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta. Eran N. Ben-Porath, PhD, is Research Director, Social Science Research Solutions, Media, Pennsylvania. The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Harvard School of Public Health or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Address correspondence to:
    Gillian K. SteelFisher, PhD, MSc
    Research Scientist
    Assistant Director, Harvard Opinion Research Program
    Harvard School of Public Health
    Department of Health Policy and Management
    Kresge, 4th Floor
    677 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115
    E-mail: gsteel@hsph.harvard.edu

    Manuscript received January 26, 2011
    accepted for publication May 14, 2011

    An attack with Bacillus anthracis (“anthrax”) is a known threat to the United States. When weaponized, it can cause inhalation anthrax, the deadliest form of the disease. Due to the rapid course of inhalation anthrax, delays in initiation of antibiotics may decrease survival chances. Because a rapid response would require cooperation from the public, there is a need to understand the public’s response to possible mass dispensing programs. To examine the public’s response to a mass prophylaxis program, this study used a nationally representative poll of 1,092 adults, supplemented by a targeted focus on 3 metropolitan areas where anthrax attacks occurred in 2001: New York City (n=517), Washington, DC (n=509), and Trenton/Mercer County, NJ (n=507). The poll was built around a “worst-case scenario” in which cases of inhalation anthrax are discovered without an identified source and the entire population of a city or town is asked to receive antibiotic prophylaxis within a 48-hour period. Findings from this poll provide important signs of public willingness to comply with public health recommendations for obtaining antibiotics from a dispensing site, although they also indicate that public health officials may face several challenges to compliance, including misinformation about the contagiousness of inhalation anthrax; fears about personal safety in crowds; distrust of government agencies to provide sufficient, safe, and effective medicine; and hesitation about ingesting antibiotic pills after receiving them. In general, people living in areas where anthrax attacks occurred in 2001 had responses similar to those of the nation as a whole.

  5. DXer said

    Montana Officials Say Anthrax Killed 37 Cattle .‎
    Times Daily – Sep 16, 2005

    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=5YMfAAAAIBAJ&sjid=qscEAAAAIBAJ&pg=2092,1995570&dq=montana+cattle+anthrax&hl=en

  6. DXer said

    http://newsmax.com/archives/articles/2005/8/18/202807.shtml

    Anthrax Outbreak Kills Hundreds of Cattle
    Friday, Aug. 19, 2005

    ENDERLIN, N.D. – An anthrax outbreak has killed hundreds of cattle in parts of the Great Plains, forcing quarantines and devastating ranchers who worry how they will recover financially.

    More than 300 animals in North Dakota have died from anthrax in what officials call the worst outbreak among livestock in state history. In South Dakota, at least 200 cattle have been killed. Two ranches in Texas were quarantined last month after anthrax was found in cattle, horses and deer, officials said.
    Story Continues Below

    Allen Lambrecht lost nine cows, or about $9,000, along with the value of future calves.

    “It got to where you didn’t want to get up in the morning,” said Lambrecht, whose family has farmed in North Dakota for three generations. “You would get up and go out and see what was left.”

    Although anthrax didn’t gain public notoriety until the still-unsolved mailing attacks that left five people dead in 2001, farmers have been dealing with the disease for decades. Spores that cause anthrax can sit dormant in the ground for as long 100 years, said Charles Stoltenow, an extension veterinarian at North Dakota State University.

    “It just sits there and waits for the right environmental conditions to come around,” he said. “You can’t predict it.”

    Unusually wet conditions in June, along with high heat and humidity in July, likely played a factor, veterinarians said. Some areas of southeastern North Dakota had more than a foot of rain in one month.

    “We’ve had anthrax before, but not of this magnitude,” said Andrew Peterson, a veterinarian at the Enderlin Veterinary Clinic in North Dakota. “It started on July 1 and the reports have been daily since then.”

    Areas Quarantined

    The state has quarantined 85 areas, which means those producers cannot sell, butcher or transport animals.

    Martin Hugh-Jones, an anthrax expert and retired Louisiana State University professor, said he expects authorities from several states and Canadian provinces to designate counties for mandatory vaccinations.

    A vaccine that can prevent anthrax is available at less than $1 a dose, Peterson said. While it’s routine to vaccinate cows in the spring, when they receive other medicine, it’s difficult in the summer when they are grazing in open pastures, ranchers said.

    Antibiotics, usually penicillin, can “save a cow from the edge of the grave,” Hugh-Jones said. However, many animals die within hours of appearing normal.

    Humans are not considered at risk to catch the disease, as long as they don’t come in contact with blood and tissue of an infected animal.

    “You’re not going to be infected unless you skin and butcher an animal that’s infected,” Hugh-Jones said. “As long as you’re not tempted to open up a carcass, you’re not in danger.”

    The current outbreak has also affected bison, horses, sheep, llamas, elk and deer, said Beth Carlson, the deputy state veterinarian in North Dakota.

    It’s likely that any deer infected with the disease already will be dead before the bow season starts in September, Hugh-Jones said.

    “We still want to make people aware of it,” said Greg Link, spokesman for the state Game and Fish Department. “People should use the same common sense they normally should. Don’t shoot an animal that’s sick, use precautions when opening up an animal, and cook your meat well, anyway.”

  7. DXer said

    Given that United States Attorney was mistaken in claiming that Ivins could have used a lyophilizer and Health Secretary Tommy Thompson was mistaken that Stevens got anthrax from drinking from a stream, health authorities should release additional details as Anonymous notes in a post below — specifically, what was the nature of the contact with dead animals by person in MInnesota? This would not violate HIPPA.

    Ironically, in an October 4, 2001 email, when Dr. Ivins suggested Stevens could have contracted inhalational anthrax from a dead animal, the government person relied upon by the FBI relied on it as evidence of guilt (given it was said to be an unrealistic suggestion for an expert to make). OTOH, in this case, I find it plausible in dry states such as those where she travelled. Note that in 2001, perhaps the reason no case had been diagnosed in a quarter century in the United States was that people were not looking for it.

    But it would be helpful to know precisely what she was doing — was it a woman on a tour of national monuments? A zoologist doing field research? A migrant worker? As Anonymous notes, disclosure of some additional facts relating to his or her contact with dead animals would be helpful.

    When it was reported that some LIFE directors were searched by the FBI, I called the director who was head of the St. Paul mosque where Elzahabi resided. I understood the PhD to be a spraydrying expert research exploring uses of rice hulls. Rice hulls are made of silicon and so I was testing the hypothesis that might explain the Silicon Signature. A very nice man, he graciously explained that he was not one of the charity directors whose home was searched. I called the FBI task force in Detroit for corroboration and the very nice agent explained that it was not something he could address. And then I decided that the initial local news report I read had been in error (after speaking with the freelancer for the small town newspaper).

    But let’s have a more informed view — a healthy skepticism — than folks did in October 5, 2001. If the CDC had been doing its job it would have read the email sent by the Canadian researchers about how the mailed anthrax, in the test, immediately dispersed across the room. Authorities then would have known to close Brentwood, the mail processing center.

    Pleas for calm in Florida as Briton catches anthrax

    By Toby Harnden and Ben Fenton in Washington12:00AM BST 05 Oct 2001

    A BRITISH-BORN businessman was critically ill with anthrax in a Florida hospital last night as the White House moved to prevent panic by stating there was no evidence of a terrorist attack.

    Robert Stevens, 63, of Lantana, near Palm Beach, was taken ill with extreme flu-like symptoms including a fever and vomiting. He was diagnosed with inhaled anthrax, the first known case in America since 1974. The FBI was investigating.

    Tommy Thompson, the Health Secretary, said at a White House briefing: “It is an isolated case and it is not contagious. There is no terrorism.”

    There had been widespread fear that America might face a bio-terrorism attack after the September 11 atrocities in New York and Washington.

    On Sunday, Andy Card, the White House chief of staff, said: “I’m not trying to be alarmist but we know these terrorist organisations have probably found the means to use biological and chemical warfare.”

    Dr Larry Bush, a Florida doctor, said: “We are treating this as an isolated case. We regard the risk to the rest of the community as low.”

    Inhaled anthrax can be contracted from cattle, sheep or goats. It is fatal in 90 per cent of cases, the last of which was in Florida.Mr Thompson said: “Sporadic cases of anthrax do occur in the United States,” .

    He described Mr Stephens as an “outdoorsman” who had recently taken his son to university in North Carolina. “We know he drank water from a stream.”

    Anthrax is not contagious and can be treated with antibiotics if caught early, said Mr Thompson. He praised Florida health officials for immediately informing the FBI.

    Symptoms include high fever before the body goes into shock. An outbreak of anthrax would probably be recognised if a major flu-like outbreak appeared and its victims had blood tests.

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