All this talk of Anthrax
made me curious. I did some research and found that
Anthrax is a rapidly-progressing infection caused by spore-forming bacteria.
Anthrax spores look like this:
Note that Anthrax is not a virus. Viral infections do not respond to antibiotics.
Spores are odorless, colorless, tasteless, and resistant to desiccation. Dry spores
can survive for many years. Some say indefinitely.
If inhaled, the infection that results from bacteria contained in these spores can
kill within a week, usually by respiratory failure. The incubation period for inhaled
Anthrax spores is 1-6 days.
Anthrax is difficult to diagnose before terminal symptoms are present. If symptoms
occur, you're screwed. Even with the most powerful designer antibiotics, the death
rate is still 80%. But it's not generally communicable.
Anthrax occurs most commonly in the ground of agricultural regions, populated by
domestic herbivores such as goats, cows & sheep. Ranchers are familiar with Anthrax.
It's most popular in regions where wet springs are followed by hot summers, as that's
what brings the spores to the surface.
Altho Anthrax can be transmitted thru a break in the skin (cutaneous) or by ingestion
(under-cooked contaminated meat), inhaled Anthrax is the most deadly.
Symptoms are similar to a wicked case of the flu. Breathing quickly becomes difficult.
Once in the lungs, spores migrate to lymph nodes, where they change to bacterial
form. There they multiply & produce toxins. These toxins cause the lungs to bleed
until complete respiratory failure occurs. Doesn't sound very pleasant.
Since laboratory Anthrax is being distributed in powdered form, I'd expect the
cocaine trade to rapidly dry up. Now that Anthrax has been found in letters sent
thru the mail. I'd expect the popularity of electronic communications such e-mail
to grow dramatically.
I can't understand how government officials can say that they have no reason to
believe the current Anthrax cases are related to the events of 9-11. Puh-leeeze!
How about the fact that the stuff was first found a few miles from where one of
the known terrorists (Atta) was asking about renting a crop-duster. Or how about
the fact that letters containing Anthrax have the date 9-11-01 written on them?
Today I heard Governor Tom Ridge, the nation's new director of Homeland Security,
say that after much investigation, it has been concluded that the Anthrax contained
in the letter to Daschle was "used as a weapon". Duh! It took a week of research to
figure that out?
Learn more about Anthrax here (the disease, not the heavy metal band). More info
here (CDC) and here (Van's).