Lake Michigan was the source of Chicago's drinking water. During a tremendous storm in 1885, the rainfall washed refuse from the Chicago River far out into the lake and locals feared the sewage would reach the city's water intake cribs, two miles offshore.
According to the legend, typhoid, cholera and other waterborne diseases from the contaminated drinking water killed up to 90,000 people. The Chicago Sanitary District (now The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District) was said to have been created by the Illinois legislature in 1889 in response to a terrible epidemic which killed thousands of residents of this fledgling city.
However, analysis of the deaths in Chicago shows no deaths from cholera and only a slight rise in typhoid deaths. In fact, no cholera outbreaks had occurred in Chicago since the 1860s. Typhoid deaths never exceeded 1,000 in any year in the 1880s. The supposed 90,000 deaths would have represented 12% of the city's entire population and would have left numerous public records as well as newspaper accounts. Libby Hill, researching her book The Chicago River: A Natural and Unnatural History, found no newspaper or mortality records and, at her prompting, the Chicago Tribune issued a retraction (on September 29, 2005) of the three recent instances where they had mentioned the epidemic (Wikipedia, 2012).
Title: Institute Responsible For Anthrax Accident In California, In Charge Of Safety And Security At Chicago Biodefense Laboratory
Date: June 22, 2004
Source: Sunshine Project
Abstract: Southern Research Institute, the military biodefense contractor recently in the news for sending live anthrax to the Children's Hospital of Oakland (CA), is also in charge of safety and security for a major new $30 million biodefense facility being built at the Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago.
The new Ricketts Regional Biocontainment Laboratory is funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) and is named after Howard T. Ricketts, a celebrated pathologist who acquired typhus in the course of research and died at age 39. It will begin biodefense work with studies of anthrax (Ames strain) and Yersinia pestis, the causative agent of plague.
Southern Research Institute, with major labs of its own in Frederick, Maryland and Birmingham, Alabama, has a $75 million annual budget including biodefense contracts from an impressive roster of Pentagon agencies. Its Frederick, Maryland facility is located near the Army's biological weapons research headquarters at Fort Detrick, yet despite its biodefense prominence, Southern Research in Frederick does not maintain an institutional biosafety committee that complies with federal research rules. (And Southern Research in Birmingham has not honored requests for records of its institutional biosafety committee.)
"Southern Research's incompetence is plain to see. Its own house is in dangerous disarray and does not comply with federal research rules," said Edward Hammond, Director of the Sunshine Project. "That threat is bad enough; but even after leaking anthrax, the institute is still developing biosafety and operating procedures for new high containment labs."
According to a national coalition of biodefense watchdogs, formed in 2002 to monitor the US biodefense program, the Southern Research situation epitomizes their concern that biodefense laboratories are proliferating unsafely and with unsound planning, and that this could result in health, environment, and international security problems.
The watchdogs also point to Southern Research's links to classified biodefense research. (Southern Research's facilities and personnel have "secret" clearance.) "Public interest groups seeking information about military biodefense programs are being stonewalled by the Army and other agencies." says Steve Erickson of Citizen's Education Project in Salt Lake City, which monitors the Army's Dugway Proving Ground. "That Southern Research and other secretive military contractors are also insinuating themselves into civilian biodefense programs is cause for concern that we are witnessing a steady erosion of openness and accountability, not only at Pentagon labs; but at academic institutions and in work funded by the National Institutes of Health."
Two other Department of Energy (DOE) labs that design and develop the nation's nuclear weapons are also building new biosafety level three biodefense facilities. Both Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos Labs have been sued by local community groups under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Inga Olson, Program Director at Tri-Valley CAREs, one of the groups that sued DOE, warns "Biodefense dollars are flowing like champagne at a wedding - into everywhere from nuclear weapons labs to children's hospitals - everyone wants a piece of the action. But a far more sober look is needed at whether the rapid spread of labs, pathogens, and bioweapons knowledge poses a greater threat than the problem we are trying to solve."
"After all," says Mary Wulff of Citizens for a Safe Lab in Hamilton, Montana (where NIH is building a new biosafety level four facility), "the Bush administration continues to rely on fear generated by the anthrax attacks and shaky allegations against other countries, like Iraq, to push billions and billions through Congress. Instead of an informed national discussion, the government's actions are based on fear and unsound information. The importance of reigning in knee-jerk reactions is underscored by the nearly tragic exposure of workers at Children's Hospital in Oakland, California."The national coalition of nonprofit groups is calling for a moratorium on new biodefense labs until comprehensive national assessment is conducted, and transparency guarantees in place, and a binding and open federal system exists to review dual-use research with biological weapons agents (Sunshine Project, 2004).
Date: February 13, 2009
Abstract: An Indiana county municipal official in the vicinity of Chicago reveals the contents of his meetings with FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security. The initial requests seem reasonable enough when FEMA asks the county officials to prepare a Hazard Mitigation Plan to deal with flooding, fires, high winds and tornadoes.
“We want to know every important thing in this county. We want to know where police departments are. Where weapons are stored. Hazardous material. Where can we land a helicopter. Where are the airports. How big a plane can you land at the airport. Where are all the bridges. Where are all the power stations. Where are all the generating stations.Where are all the substations. They literally wanted to know where everything was. I’m sitting there thinking man if there was ever martial law. This kind of information is exactly the kind of stuff they are going to want. We’re just laying it all out for them right there.”
During the legally mandated meetings held with FEMA and DHS different disaster scenarios were reveled to county officials:
1. In late December 2008 municipal officials were invited to Indianapolis for a briefing on the state of Indiana. There were told if industry were to collapse for example GM going bankrupt resulting in mass unemployment a depression would soon follow and municipalities could expect to loose 40% of their funds.
2. Every county in the nation would be required to prepare a Hazard Mitigation Plan.
3. The county should prepare a plan to vaccinate the entire population within 48 hours and practice the plan several times.
4. FEMA inquired to where mass graves could be placed in the county and would they accept bodies from elsewhere.
5. The sheriff’s department via the state sheriff association was told that no .223 ammunition rounds would be available as the military would be purchasing all stocks.
6. The county was asked to make plans for “hardening” of police and fire stations, putting in hardened bunker type buildings around town.
7. The county was asked to make plans for the possibility of up to 400,000 refugees from Chicago (Infowars, 2009).
Date: September 21, 2009
Source: Science Mag
Abstract: An autopsy last week revealed that a geneticist who died mysteriously might have succumbed to the plague. Malcolm Casadaban, 60, studied a weakened and reportedly benign form of the bacteria that causes plague, Yersinia pestis, in his lab at the University of Chicago. Casadaban died Sunday, 13 September, and an autopsy report 5 days later indicated high levels of Y. pestis in his blood. No other cause of death was apparent, the university said. A team of scientists at the university, with support from local health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is investigating the matter. So far, no one in contact with Casadaban has shown plague symptoms. The investigators are focusing on whether the strain Casadaban worked on was different than other benign strains of the bacterium and whether he had any inborn susceptibility to the microbe. Results are expected in a few weeks (Science Mag, 2009).
Title: Another Dead Microbiologist - The Coming Plague
Date: September 23, 2009
Source: ABC 7 News
Title: Researcher's Death From Plague Prompts CDC Warning
Date: February 24, 2011
Source: My Health News
Abstract: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reminding laboratory workers to be diligent about wearing protective gear, after it found that an Illinois researcher died in 2009 from exposure to plague-causing bacteria.
The 60-year-old researcher, a university employee, had been working with a strain of the bacteria Yersinia pestis. He died of cardiac arrest shortly after going to the hospital for what appeared to be flu symptoms, the CDC said in a report released today (Feb. 24).
After determining the cause of death, health agencies and the university began a safety investigation and learned that the man had inconsistently complied with the laboratory policy to wear gloves while handling the bacterial cultures, the CDC report said.
However, experts at the CDC did not rule out that the researcher could have been infected by the bacteria elsewhere on his skin or mucous membranes, such as his mouth or nose.
The CDC report did not identify the man or his university. According to a report from Chicago television station WLS in 2009, he was Malcolm Casadaban, a longtime professor of molecular genetics at the University of Chicago. His family said Casadaban had been seeking to develop a plague vaccine, and was working with a weakened strain of the bacteria.
The CDC report said he had hemochromatosis, a condition in which too much iron is absorbed into body tissues from foods in the gastrointestinal tract. Because Y. pestis bacteria are naturally iron-deficient, the extra iron in the man may have fed the bacteria and caused them to become virulent, the report said.
The researcher sought care from a physician Sept. 10, 2009, six days after he had last worked in the lab. But that doctor thought the problem was a respiratory infection or the flu, and referred him to an emergency department, the report said.
Three days later the researcher was brought by ambulance to an emergency department because of fever, cough, and worsening of his shortness of breath. He died there after suffering septic shock and cardiac arrest, the report said.
Blood tests later revealed he was infected with the bacteria . The Chicago Department of Public Health was then notified.Before then, the last known laboratory-acquired infection with Y. pestis bacteria in the United States occurred in 1959, the CDC report said. That person, who inhaled the bacteria, did not die (My Health News, 2011).
Title: Illinois National Guard Chemical Unit Trains In Poland
Date: May 26, 2011
Source: Bio Prep Watch
Abstract: A team of Illinois National Guardsmen trained with soldiers from Poland in response to a simulated chemical attack on May 19 at the Prairie Warsaw Crisis Management Exercise in Warsaw, Poland.
The Illinois Army National Guard and the Polish force have trained together since 1993 as part of the State Partnership Program. Poland and Illinois have conducted exercises in both locations for the past 18 years.
Troops from the Illinois National Guard and Poland have deployed together in both Afghanistan and Iraq. The Illinois National Guard deploys soldiers with a Police Land Force Brigade on each Polish rotation into theater in Afghanistan.
The exercise included the application via a spraying apparatus of a simulated decontaminating solution to members acting as decontamination victims. Sgt. Matthew M. Krieger of Granite City, Ill., a chemical operations specialist with the 445th Chemical Co. played one of the casualties during the exercise. Sgt. Mike Skalisius of Troy, Ill., a chemical operations specialist with the 13th Chemical Co. played a casualty and was wrapped in a thermal blanket during the exercise.Capt. Lukasz Krzowski, an officer with Poland’s Epidemiological Response Center of the Armed Forces with Polish Land Forces, explained to soldiers in the Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and high-yield Explosive Enhanced Response Force Package, 44th Chemical Battalion out of Macomb, Ill., how to use the protective equipment that the Polish Army employs in case of an attack (Bio Prep Watch, 2011).
Title: Rush Medical Center Opening New Bio-Terror Wing
Date: August 3, 2011
Source: My Fox Chicago
Abstract: If you've driven on the Eisenhower recently, you couldn't have missed it -- "the Tower," a butterfly shaped addition to Rush University Medical Center. But it's much more than just another new eye-catching part of Chicago's skyline.
When the hospital opens in January, it will be specially equipped to handle a bio-terrorist attack, or a widespread outbreak of infectious disease.
The entrance is a shower zone.
"It becomes a decontamination area, where we can create the flow for people coming into our center, who can be decontaminated through showers in our emergency room safely," said Dr. Anthony Perry.
Perry, a Rush geriatrician, helped design the new facility. He said other sections or the hospital have similar capabilities. With a flip of a switch, the air flow systems in entire wings can be changed, trapping contaminants inside.
The hospital's unusual architecture grew from staff suggestion about how to best care for patients. Nurses will be closer to patients, patients will enjoy spectacular views, and doctors will find it easier to reach out to their colleagues for assistance. Even in the middle of surgery, doctors will be able to use video hookups to talk with surgeons in other operating rooms.Environmentally, the hospital is also cutting edge. It will be Chicago's first full-service green hospital, conserving energy and reducing waste; they're even planting some trees on the roof (My Fox Chicago, 2011).
Title: Master Of Science In Threat and Response Management
Source: University of Chicago
Abstract: Will you make a difference? You will when you gain knowledge from instructors who have tactical experience in incident command, when you build firsthand familiarity with state-of-the-art software and hardware in surveillance and monitoring, and when you network and share lessons with colleagues, policy makers, and other officials.
The Master of Science in Threat and Response Management is designed to prepare public health professionals, law enforcement officials, fire and emergency personnel, medical and nursing professionals, and policy makers to respond to and recover from complex incidents regardless of their size or cause. These incidents can range from terrorist attacks; biological, chemical, radiological and nuclear threats; natural disasters; and disease outbreaks. Upon completion of the core requirements, students choose one of two concentrations—Scientific/Threat or Administrative/Response Preparedness—to further focus their studies.
The program is connected to the Great Lakes Regional Center of Excellence (GLRCE) for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases Research, a program supporting a consortium of 20 area institutions funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Research at the GLRCE focuses on developing vaccines, treatments, and diagnostics for dreaded diseases such as anthrax, botulism, tularemia, hemorrhagic fever viruses, and plague. The collaborative efforts of the Biological Sciences Division of the University of Chicago and the GLRCE provide students with unparalleled experiential learning opportunities and help translate the findings from these research projects for policy makers and practitioners. Additional instruction is provided by the faculty, scientists, and scholars of the University of Chicago, as well as by practitioners from emergency preparedness community.Apply to the Master of Science in Threat and Response Management program today. Position yourself as a leader in an emerging field (University of Chicago, 2012).
Title: Chicago Set To Open Advanced Response Center
Date: January 5, 2012
Source: Bio Prep Watch
Abstract: The Robert R. McCormick Foundation Center for Advanced Emergency Response, is fully equipped for decontamination during a large-scale emergency or bioattack, will open on Friday in the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
The facility includes interconnected pods that are capable of isolation to prevent the spread of infectious agents, permanent decontamination showers and large storage tanks to collect contaminated water run-off from patients. It is the first facility of its kind in the United States.
“The center brings an unprecedented level of preparedness to Chicago in the event of a bioterrorist attack, a deadly pandemic or an industrial accident sending hazardous materials seeping into the streets,” Dino Rumoro, the chairman of emergency medicine at Rush, said.
The idea behind the emergency response center came after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, when the definition of a mass casualty was expanded to include inhalation problems, burns and the entire body being crushed.
“Our goal is to do what hospitals all over the country have been trying to do for years: give patients a place to go in a large-scale emergency,” Rumoro said. “The concept of the new emergency room is not that novel, but putting together all the key elements of this center is novel. In an event of an emergency, we will closely coordinate all of our work with neighboring institutions and the city’s office of emergency management and communications.”
On a daily basis, the new facility will be a traditional emergency room with 60 treatment bays and a surge capacity of 133 percent. The inpatients that are currently at Rush will move to the new 40,000 square foot, 14-story facility on Sunday.
“Since we are committed to providing unprecedented disaster response and due to our affiliation with the military, being able to conduct coordinated large-scale decontamination inside and outside the hospital is a major public health responsibility," Rumoro said.
Rush received a $7.5 million grant from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation as well as grants from other agencies, including the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy, to build the facility. The center is part of a $654 million new hospital building called the Tower, which is a major component of a 10 year, $1 billion campus redevelopment program called the Rush Transformation (Bio Prep Watch, 2012).
Title: Illinois Partnership Aims To Stop The Threat Of Agro-Terrorism
Date: February 3, 2012
Source: Bio Prep Watch
Abstract: An Illinois partnership between agriculture organizations and law enforcement agencies hopes to protect Illinois food systems, farms and consumers from the threats of agro-terrorism.
The Illinois Agro-Security Working Group looks to raise awareness of these issues among those in the food production and agriculture industries. The group, which is a service of the Illinois Farm Bureau, was created to educate farmers on how best to report, recognize and prevent terrorist and criminal activities related to Illinois agriculture, Drovers reports.
“Illinois farms are more vulnerable to terrorist activity than most people realize,” Dave Patton, the field operations manager with the IFB, said, according to FarmweekNow.com. “There have been some cases in other states where a person noticing suspicious behavior has helped capture a would-be terrorist, so we know agro-terrorism is a real threat.”
A brochure has been given to agriculture producers in the state that provides information and resources in the battle against agro-terrorism, including how to report suspicious activities and the signs of illnesses.
“The brochure doesn’t necessarily provide farmers with a comprehensive list of things to watch for, but it certainly gives them a good starting point,” Jim Kaitschuk, the executive director of the Illinois Pork Producers Association, said, according to FarmweekNow.com. “Ultimately, our producers know their animals and their operations better than anyone else and they need to be the instigators when it comes to reporting any potential threat.”
Other organizations involved in the group aside from the FBI and the IFB include the Illinois Pork Producers, Illinois Beef Association and the Midwest Dairy Association (Bio Prep Watch, 2012).
Title: Illinois Swine Match 2011 Human H3N2v
Date: April 26, 2012
Abstract: The USDA has released another series of swine sequences from collections in late 2011 / early 2012. Included were five isolates (A/swine/Illinois/A00857138a/2011, A/swine/Illinois/A00857138b/2011, A/swine/Illinois/A00857300/2011, A/swine/Illinois/A00857304a/2012, A/swine/Illinois/A00857304b/2012) which were collected on October 20, 2011, November 28, 2011, and January 5, 2012, respectively, from lung tissues.
Like the two earlier matches from New York and Iowa (A/swine/NY/A01104005/2011 and A/swine/Iowa/A01202640/2011), the collections were after the spread of H3N2v in humans in 2011 and all matches are with the first 10 human isolates in 2011. Thus, there still have been no swine matches with the three most recent H3N2v human isolates (A/West Virginia/06/2011, A/West Virginia/07/2011, A/Utah/10/2012) which have an N2 from swine H3N2v.
The recent swine matches indicate this constellation is spreading in swine in Illinois, and increase concerns that these sequences have adapted to humans, and like H1N1pdm09, have jumped back to swine and are becoming increasingly common (Recombinomics, 2012).
Title: Chicago Hospitals On Alert For Bioterrorism With NATO In Town
Date: May 18, 2012
Abstract: The Cook County Health and Hospitals System and the University of Chicago Medical Center will set up their decontamination areas to treat victims of potential bioterrorist attacks during this week’s NATO summit.
The Cook County Health and Hospitals System is the host hospital during the summit and will assume first responder duties in case of an emergency. Any patient of the two hospitals who thinks he has been exposed to biological agents will receive treatment in the decontamination tent or trailer before being able to enter the emergency room, Crain’s Chicago Business reports.
“What we have heard from some of the other host cities is that you’ll get a number of patients who are referred to as the ‘walking well’ who think they’ve been contaminated but haven’t,” Krista Curell, the vice president of risk management at University of Chicago Medical Center, said, according to Crain’s Chicago Business.
Curell said that the area will be staffed by trained medical professionals who are prepared for emergency-response procedures. While the term decontamination area seems ominous, the staff anticipates they will mostly treat minor symptoms like dehydration, heat exhaustion, and bumps and bruises. Both hospital systems will also have extra doctors on call on the inside of the hospitals (BioPrepWatch, 2012).
Title: Illinois County Investigating First Probable Case Of Measles In 18 years
Date: July 11, 2012
Abstract: Health officials from the northern Illinois county of Winnebago are investigating the first likely case of measles in nearly two decades.
According to a Winnebago County Health Department (WCHD) news release Tuesday, a four-year-old child presented with a rash that began near the ears with an onset of 6/30/2012. The child also presented with conjunctivitis, fever, and Koplik spots, all symptoms of the respiratory illness.
Health officials say, if this case is confirmed, it will be the first confirmed case of measles in the county since 1994.
WCHD strongly urges all area health-care professionals to maintain a high index of suspicion for the appearance of additional measles cases in the coming weeks and report all suspect cases to WCHD.
Health authorities also advise to ensure you are up-to-date with vaccinations if traveling abroad. Many countries still have high rates of the disease and the concern of importing measles to the US is high.
In fact, Dr. Anne Schuchat, MD, Director, Office of Infectious Diseases, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease said in April, 200 of the 222 measles cases reported in 2011 were associated with importations from other countries.
Measles or rubeola, is an acute highly communicable viral disease that is characterized by Koplik spots in the cheek or tongue very early in the disease. A couple of days later a red blotchy rash appears first on the face, and then spreads, lasting 4-7 days. Other symptoms include fever, cough and red watery eyes. The patient may be contagious from four days prior to the rash appearance to four days after rash appearance.
The disease is more severe in infants and adults. Complications from measles which is reported in up to 20% of people infected include; seizures, pneumonia, deafness and encephalitis.Winnebago County is located in northern Illinois bordering Wisconsin. The population according to the 2010 census is nearly 300,000 (Examiner, 2012).
Title: Illinois Post Office Evacuated After White Powder Scare
Date: August 24, 2012
Abstract: The Evanston Post Office in Evanston, Illinois, was evacuated on Thursday morning after an employee spotted a whitish-yellow powder on the outside of a package.
The employee notified the postmaster who then referred the situation to the Evanston Fire Department. A hazmat team arrived at the scene and determined that the mysterious white powder was actually a combination of flour and cooking spices, Patch reports.
“All is clear,” Wally Bobkiewicz, the city manager, said, according toPatch. “We are cleaning up and will be departing shortly.”
Prior to the identification, emergency responders arrived at the post office, evacuated the building and treated the employee. The employee got some of the material on his arms, according to Eric Palmer, the city’s spokesperson. The fire department called for mutual aid from nearby suburbs and the local communities responded by sending at least 12 trucks.
The hazmat team quickly identified the substance as flour and cooking spices. The package was sent by an Evanston resident who purchased it for himself in California and subsequently mailed it home, Patch reports.
Anthrax, a white powder that can be used in bioterrorism, was sent
through the mail in the United States in 2001. The powder caused 22 anthrax
infections and five deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (BioPrepWatch, 2012).
Chicago Fire Lieutenant Dies From West Nile Virus, Donates Brain To Science
Date: October 5, 2012
Source: Fox News
Abstract: A Chicago Fire Department lieutenant bitten by a mosquito about two weeks ago died Thursday night from the West Nile virus, MyFoxChicago reported.
The mosquito bit Lt. Thomas Flahive, 58, during a family trip to Wisconsin two weeks ago, Fire Media Affairs Director Larry Langford said.
The men of Engine Company 108 from the Milwaukee and Laramie firehouse said they never thought a big, strapping guy like Flahive would lose his life because of a mosquito bite.
According to officials, he was bitten by a carrier mosquito and started exhibiting flu-like symptoms. He later slipped into a coma, suffered irreversible brain damage and did not survive.
Friday was a tough day for firefighters who knew that their brother was sick and in the hospital for a couple of weeks, but they never imagined this would happen to him.They said he had a lot of character, big personality, so they are all very saddened by this.
He is survived by his wife, Mary Faith, and three adult children, Langford said.
His family has decided to donate his brain to science so scientists can figure out more about the West Nile virus and how it affects the human body.The Illinois Department of Public Health has confirmed 179 human cases of West Nile Virus in 2012, resulting in six deaths (Fox News, 2012).