August 25 2005 ~ A reminder of the way effective technologies to fight FMD have been blocked
The paper U.S. Agricultural and Food Security: Who Will Provide the Leadership? mentions new technologies started fifteen years ago. (our own emphasis)
The authors said, "vigorous efforts were made to replace the BSL 3 facilities at Plum Island NY, Athens GA, and Ames, IA, and to provide the first BSL 4 facilities for livestock at Plum Island. We came very close – but suffice it to say that after 6 years of effort there are no modern BSL 3 facilities for agriculture and the nation still has no BSL 4 facility in which to prepare for such dangerous livestock infections as Hendra and Nipah viruses and their cousins yet unknown."
- " From the mid-1990s, diagnostics were moved from performance in a high-containment laboratory to portable, on-site devices that did not require biological containment."
(i.e.the technology was ready about ten years ago. A section of the paper containing such sentences as "On-site detectors should transform disease surveillance and control, not echo history over smaller geographies. In our view, a federal or state official equipped with an Internet-linked detection device should be on the site of any suspected foreign animal disease outbreak in the U.S. within 4 hours or less of notification so that vigorous informed control measures backed by positive diagnosis can be implemented nationally within 6 hours..." were altered without the knowledge or approval of the authors. There are, in the UK, members of SAC who still know nothing about rapid detection kits.)
- A test to discriminate animals that have been vaccinated against FMD from those that have recovered from infection .... APHIS did not pursue the regulatory procedures necessary for validation
- An antiviral drug that would block FMD virus infection.... stopped after early success for lack of funds.
- vaccines that can be manufactured in the U.S... for diseases that are both natural and biological weapons threats. ..... begun in the early 1990s but stopped after early success for lack of funds.
However, see below..
August 25 2005 ~Homeland Security wants to turn Plum Island into "a new, massive center for biological and agricultural defense" with the highest laboratory security level, BSL 4 .
The US GovExec.com's "Daily Briefing" yesterday says that the Homeland Security department announced in a press release on Monday that the US is considering upgrading Plum Island to Biosafety containment level 4 (BSL4) that the new facility would "replace" the "important but aging" more than 50-year-old centre.
Plum Island is still at present a Biosafety Level 3 facility and is still the only facility in the United States where official testing for FMD is allowed. According to the briefing, attempts in the past to upgrade Plum Island have "faced local protests and opposition ..." Read the "Daily Briefing" in full
Plum Island has had security lapses in the recent past, and it has been upgrading its security .
( Warmwell can only report on what it finds. Being itself unvalidated, it is never officially informed of anything. Nevertheless, appalled by the incompetent and bloody fiasco of 2001, warmwell has battled on regardless and unfunded for four years. Perhaps there is now some room for hope if threats of natural incursions of disease or bio-terrorism are now being taken so very much more seriously in the US. Modern technological breakthroughs, still astonishingly unvalidated may at last be going to be used officially. And if the US leads the way, is it then possible that our own contingency plans will start to acknowledge what has in fact been possible for the past decade in the way of vaccine, discriminatory tests, and rapid on-site diagnosis? )