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GAO Expresses Concerns Over Bioterrorism Response in US

Recombinomics Commentary

April 5, 2005

>> We cannot rely on the argument that no one has become sick to answer the question of whether facilities are contaminated."
The Department of Homeland Security and EPA have been ordered by Congress to reach agreement by August on crisis management responsibilities, the report said. <<

Concerns have been raised about false negatives and false positives in anthrax testing in the US.  Although the recent GAO report recommends improved testing for individual facilities, WHO seems to rely on the "who got sick" test to monitor bird flu worldwide and Marburg in Angola.

For bird flu there is still no resolution on the deposited human WSN/33 sequences from pigs in South Korea, 5 months after the information was made public.  The Korean investigator has reported widespread infections in Korean pigs on farms, yet WHO is still investigating to see if the sequences are real or "lab error", more than 5 months after the fact. 

If the sequences are real, they represent an accidental or deliberate release from a lab, since WSN/33 is a human lab flu virus that was isolated in London in 1933.  Moreover, the relationship between the WSN/33 / H9N2 recombinants and reassortants to the bird flu outbreak in North Korea is unknown. Although H5N1 is suspected, lack of sub-type testing in the North has left the sub-type question unanswered.

In Angola, there was no serious testing until health care workers began dying in Angola last month.  The Marburg virus had been killing children in Angola since last fall.  It has rapidly became the largest reported Marburg infection and will likely exceed the largest Ebola outbreak.

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