Monday, September 12, 2005

Russia's bacteriological crisis poses global threat

Avian flu is moving westward with the migration of tens of millions of wild birds from Siberia, where more than 12,000 birds have already died. In many cases, these birds have been exposed to the more dangerous and virulent forms of the disease that have appeared in Asia and there is a concern that they will begin to infect humans. In most cases, this would be by transmission to domestic birds intended for human consumption.

This danger is particularly apposite because the Russian outbreak includes H5N1, a strain of avian flu known to affect humans and arguably the most likely to create a potential pandemic if the disease eventually begins to spread from human to human. The wider the area and population exposed to avian flu, the more likely it is that it will mutate or exchange genetic material with the human influenza virus, creating the basis for a global pandemic.

While the threat posed by avian flu is serious, it is nonetheless natural. A second area of concern relates to the residues of Russia's biological warfare programme.

Read more here.

Russia in its Soviet Union guise played with fire on levels that the US couldn't hope or dream to match. They had an extremely active biological research program that archive divers have only scratched the surface of in their attempts to document. The Soviets even killed a number of people in accidental releases...which given their great care taken with their industrial works is of no surprise.

Given that the state of Russia's medical system, you have to wonder if there's some ticking time bomb waiting on some abandoned test station that some one might stumble across, become infected by, and Russia be completely unable to respond to nor contain. Given the interconnectedness of the world now, might we be waiting for the pandemic - not out of Africa with some hemorrhagic fever as is the favored scenario by thriller authors - out of Russia simply because of the collapse of its medical system and its biowarfare legacy?

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