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Bio-Terrorism: An Unusual Case Study of Anthrax Attack

Anthrax Attacks case study
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Most of you must be aware of the bio-terror Anthrax attacks from 2001. Anthrax is one of the zoonotic occupational diseases. Anthrax is a disease caused by the Bacillus anthracis which is a rod-shaped immobile aerobic gram-positive bacterium with spore that lives in soil.

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Randomly anthrax occurs in human beings with low frequency. Most cases of anthrax area unit not heritable through contact with infected animals or contaminated animal product. Depending on the transmission method of the disease, clinical manifestations occur in three classes which include Cutaneous, respiratory, and gastrointestinal anthrax.

The respiratory form is taken into account because the most fatal and rare kind of anthrax intends to show complicated and strange manifestations.

In this modern world with new technology, different kinds of criminal activities have also occurred. One of them includes the use of biology. On one side where biology has been used successfully to study the human body and organisms to benefit society, it has also been misused by many others for their personal benefit. One such case study of Anthrax attack comes to my mind.

Anthrax Attacks

In late 2001, soon after the terrorist attacks of 11th September, the United States was in the grip of a new terror threat. Between 4th October and 20th November, twenty-two cases of anthrax were reported. 11 of these cases were cutaneous anthrax while 11 were pulmonary anthrax. 5 of the patients who contracted pulmonary anthrax died.

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The source of this outbreak was traced to letters contaminated with Bacillus anthracis endospores. The letters were deliberately sent by the perpetrator to a variety of prominent individuals including members of media and two US Senate – one was Tom Daschle of South Dakota and the other was Patrick Leahy of Vermont. Twenty of the 22 patients were mail handlers or others who entered workplaces where contaminated mail was processed or received.

Letters Distributed

The members of media letters consist of the following notes-

09-11-01
THIS IS NEXT
TAKE PENACILIN [sic] NOW
DEATH TO AMERICA
DEATH TO ISRAEL
ALLAH IS GREAT

The second letter that was addressed to Senate Tom Daschle of South Dakota and other was Patrick Leahy of Vermont consist of following notes-

09-11-01
YOU CAN NOT STOP US. 
WE HAVE THIS ANTHRAX. 
YOU DIE NOW. 
ARE YOU AFRAID? 
DEATH TO AMERICA. 
DEATH TO ISRAEL. 
ALLAH IS GREAT.

Investigation on Anthrax Attacks

Being a microbiologist at the Army’s elite infectious disease laboratory in Fort Detrick, Maryland. Bruce Ivins was suspected of bioterrorism anthrax attacks. In August 2008, Department of Justice and FBI officers declared a breakthrough within the case and released documents and data showing that charges were on the point of being brought against Dr. Bruce Ivins, who took his own life before those charges might be filed.

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On 19th February 2010, the Department of Justice, the FBI, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service formally completed the investigation into the 2001 anthrax attacks and issued an Investigative outline.

The Amerithrax Task Force which consisted of roughly 25 to 30 regular investigators from the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and different law enforcement agencies, as well as federal prosecutors from the District of Columbia and the Justice Department’s Counterterrorism Section, expended hundreds of thousands of investigator work hours on this case.

Their efforts concerned over 10,000 witness interviews on six completely different continents, the execution of 80 searches, and the recovery of over half a dozen materials or items of potential evidence during the course of the investigation.

This concerned the supplying of over 5,750 jury subpoenas and also the assortment of 5,730 environmental samples from 60 site locations. Additionally, new scientific strategies were developed that ultimately diode to the break in the case methods that would have an extensive impact on future investigations.

Conclusion

An FBI report concluded that Bruce Ivins, an Army microbiologist studying vaccines and cures for exposure to anthrax at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), was the sole perpetrator who has mailed anthrax-filled letters that killed five people in 2001.

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The Bureau reported that the anthrax spores that were present in the letters were genetically connected to unique anthrax spores that Ivins had developed and maintained in his laboratory at USAMRIID. On February 2010, the FBI closed its investigation into the anthrax attacks after more than eight years, issuing a 92-page report that concluded that Ivins carried out the attacks entirely on his own.

However, after one year On 15th February 2011, a panel of scientific experts assembled by the National Academy of Sciences, at the request of the FBI, independently evaluated the Bureau’s genetic analysis of the anthrax spores. In doing so, the cluster of highly trained personnel suggested that the scientific evidence put forth by the FBI was insufficient to prove that Ivins was the offender.

Furthermore, recently filed official papers have acknowledged that the “hot suite” sealed space in Ivins’ laboratory did not contain the equipment needed to turn liquid anthrax into the refined anthrax powder that was present within the letters, and that the laboratory lacked the facilities in 2001 to manufacture the sort of spores found in the letters.

Ivins committed suicide and therefore the case against Ivins rests partly on a posh genetic technique.

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