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Migratory birds as terrorist bioweapons

Reader comment on item: Al-Qaeda's Limits

Submitted by Brad Arnold (United States), Feb 13, 2004 at 03:08

The Asia H5N1 avian flu reservior appears to be in migratory birds. These hardy fowl withstand infection and shed virus across state and country borders. Their feces hits the barnyard, drys, and then blows in the wind.

The RNA strand of influenza is actually composed of eight segments that are adapt at reassortment. The more strands in circulation, the more of a chance that the H5N1 avian flu will change into a supervirus that would infect people. Since animal pathogens are less controlled, and RNA is so adaptable, the bioterrorism strategy of sowing an animal pathogen would not only be agriculture bioterrorism, but would be an effective strategy to create a human pandemic.

WHO has not recommended culling migratory birds, which are the obvious reservior of the H5N1 avian flu. This is equivalent to our not seeking to exterminate mosquitos that carry the West Nile virus, and are a presumed reservior of the disease. Basically, there are potential animal/virus reserviors that can't be eliminated, and that would make any bioweapon that used such a niche unextinguishable. The viral smoldering could last for years, or even decades, before a supervirus flared.

One person could be infected with a highly contagious bioweapon, and they could fly airplanes and walk through crowds while sheding the virus, causing a epidemic, then a pandemic. You could infect one migratory bird, and cause an avian pandemic, which could turn quickly into a human pandemic.

North American birds will be returning from the South this Spring. Will a deadly, highly contagious pathogen be delivered with them? How easy would it be to smuggle a sample of H5N1 avian flu from Asia, where it is a pandemic, to America, to be introduced to our migratory bird population? Such a sly attack probably wouldn't even be labeled a bioterrorism attack, but just a natural occurrence.

Who needs airplanes filled with gasoline to use as a missiles? All you need is one migratory bird shedding the H5N1 avian virus.
Submitting....

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Reader comments (17) on this item

Title Commenter Date Thread
Migratory birds as terrorist bioweapons [329 words]Brad ArnoldFeb 13, 2004 03:0813868
Is there a Koranic / Hadithic Foundation for Moderate Islam? [221 words]Dan BartholomewJun 4, 2003 13:119381
Re the 'State sponsorship' post- Stop with the nit picking. [130 words]CethernJun 4, 2003 08:519374
ideology challege [126 words]dave murphyMay 31, 2003 02:369306
untitled [46 words]A. K. LenceskiMay 31, 2003 01:179305
Al Qaeda's Limits [24 words]AngelMay 29, 2003 22:209292
It is War [92 words]Glenn KlotzMay 29, 2003 14:139286
Shadowy Terrorist Networks [78 words]Isaiah520May 29, 2003 09:049284
Al Qaeda [56 words]Ron IrvineMay 29, 2003 05:299281
What (and where) is the target? [192 words]Alain Jean-MairetMay 29, 2003 03:429280
Every Action Has Its Reaction [190 words]M.AfzalFeb 6, 2008 10:199280
The Al-Qaeda "Movement" [33 words]Joseph SklarMay 28, 2003 21:519278
Coincidence [55 words]Rod CoxMay 28, 2003 20:069275
What About State Sponsorship? [204 words]AvrahamMay 28, 2003 18:519272
Moslem Terrorism [9 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Jaime EisenMay 28, 2003 15:389271
Al-Qaida organization and activities [6 words]Henry MohrerMay 28, 2003 14:419269
The issue is ideology, not organization [27 words]Walter D'UllMay 28, 2003 13:459268

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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