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Deadly Bites

Is West Nile Virus
A Biological Weapon
Out Of Control?
As it spreads across the United States the West Nile Virus is turning out to be more than a mere mosquito-borne disease that kills birds and makes humans sick.
The virus is now killing horses, elk and deer. At last count 212 people died from the disease after it paralyzed them. At least two doctors have described the paralysis as having "polio-like symptoms" and are suggesting a link with a second virus identified as St. Louis encephalitis.
It was recently discovered to also be the cause of the mystery deaths of hundreds of alligators on Florida "gator" farms. That this virus not only crosses species, but attacks cold blooded reptiles (with skin so thick a mosquito could never penetrate it), has serious implications.
Until the appearance of West Nile Virus and Mad Cow Disease, the existence of a serious disease that crossed species and attacked its carriers was relatively rare. Bubonic plague is carried by rats and fleas, but only seems deadly to humans after a bite by infected fleas. Other diseases like Malaria, Rocky Mountain Fever and the Haunta Virus are brought to humans through contact with biting insects or the feces of infected mice.
While I have written extensively about the maverick protein that brings on Mad Cow Disease in any species of animal that feeds on the meat of an infected carcass, I didn't start taking a look at West Nile Virus until I learned about the alligator connection. Also there was a recent story about a woman who believes she acquired the disease through sexual contact.
There are signs that West Nile Virus is a deadly predator in our midst that is out of control. If it is randomly jumping species by not only insect bite, but physical contact, it means that most living things may be in danger. While most humans are known to survive the infection, we do not know if a survival rate exists among the animals. Horses that receive good medical care also are known survivors but even there the death rate is as high as 40 percent.
So where would such a virile bug like West Nile Virus originate? Would you believe it was a bio-terrorist weapon that may have been created in our own government laboratories about 20 years ago?
A recent editorial by Ernest Stewart in his Internet political magazine "Issues and Alibis," quoted a document titled "Senate Report 103-900, United States Dual-Use Export To Iraq And Their Impact On the Health of the Persian Gulf War Veterans," dated May 25, 1994.  The committee that created the report was said to be the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee chaired by Sen. Donald Riegle of Michigan.
According to Stewart, the report stated that the United States shipped various pathogens to Iraq in the 1980s with the full knowledge of the Department of Commerce and the CDC. Among the list of pathogens in that shipment were Bacillus Anthracis (anthrax), Clostridium botulinum, and West Nile Fever Virus.
If the report is accurate, it would explain why President Bush is so sure Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction. We once gave a package of deadly pathogens to Saddam Hussein.
But it also seems that the horse is already out of the barn. The anthrax letter scare proved to be an effective killing agent but with limitations. The West Nile Virus, on the other hand, is here and it is going to be a slow and insidious disease that will take its toll. Were they both delivered by terrorists?
Dr. Patricia Doyle, who maintains a web site titled "Emerging Diseases" and has gained some notoriety through public radio appearances, suggests in a published article that the West Nile Virus in the United States is a "recombinant, manufactured virus."
Unlike the strains of West Nile Virus occurring in the Middle East and in Africa, Dr. Doyle said the virus is generating unique polio-like symptoms among victims in the United States.
She wrote: "All of the anomalies that we are seeing in the US regarding the West Nile Virus outbreak have not occurred in other areas of the world.
"At this time, I have not seen the lab results of blood tests on (the) six West Nile Virus/Polio cases and cannot state that we have actually isolated polio virus (aka: picornovirus of the genus enterovirus) but I do realize that we are seeing West Nile Virus trigger a polio-like sequalae or syndrome," Doyle wrote.
Doyle is suggesting that someone in a laboratory has combined the West Nile Virus with the polio virus and created a deadly new bug. And that bug has been unleashed on the United States.
A recent article by Dr. Miguel A. Faria Jr. goes even farther. Faria reported that Ken Alibek, author of "Biohazard" and former deputy head of the Soviet biological warfare project, and Dr. Manuel Cereijo, professor at Florida International University, believe the outbreak "may be a direct result of a joint biological terrorism project between Iraq and Cuba."
Faria wrote that Cereijo reported in April, 2002, that "Iraq received the West Nile virus in the late 1980s from the CDC, while Cuba received the St. Louis encephalitis virus, which is very similar to the West Nile virus, for medical research."
The story suggests that it was the Cubans that financed the research in a biological attack that could be launched against the United States through migratory birds.
It is possible that terrorism attacks against the United States started long before the planes were flown into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. While not as spectacular as the September 11 event, in the long run this attack may turn out to be far more deadly, with world wide implications.
We could have at work the makings of an insidious bug that threatens every living creature, everywhere. The presence of this dangerous new form of West Nile Virus has already change our way of life. Who can enjoy a walk in the woods or even a summer evening in the yard without worrying about being bitten by an infected mosquito?

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