Agriculture (Food & Animals)

BIOTERRORBIBLE.COM: In the aftermath of man-made bio-terror generated pandemic, the government and media will be feeding the public any number of different scapegoats allegedly responsible for the pandemic that will likely kill millions.

While some scapegoats (see below) are indeed plausible, it is much more likely that the live pathogens or agents responsible for the pandemic will likely be dispersed via A) chemtrails by government airplanes or drones, B) by the U.S. Postal Service via Tide detergent samples, C) by the government and medical establishment via tainted vaccines or by D) the portable petri dish commonly known as the Trojan condom.

Bio-Terror Scapegoats: Africa, Agriculture (Food & Animals), Airports & Air Travel, Al Qaeda, Bio Labs, Bio-Terrorism Is Easy, Bio-Terrorists (Bio-Hackers), Black Market, Bugs & Insects, Censorship / Lack Thereof, Domestic Terrorists, Exotic Animals (Zoonosis), Government Ineptitude, Mail-Order DNA, Mexico, Missile Shield Failure, Mutation, Natural Disaster, No Clinical Trials (Vaccines), and The Monkeys.

Title: Law Enforcement’s Role In Defending Against Bio-Terrorism Threats To America’s Livestock Industry
Date: 2002
Source: Homeland Security


What Is the Threat?
There is general agreement among agriculture experts that the greatest biological threat to our country’s agriculture economy is foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). This highly contagious, viral disease attacks cloven-hoofed animals (cattle, swine, and sheep), as well as wildlife such as deer and elk. The FMD virus has a remarkable capacity for remaining viable in carcasses, in animal byproducts, in water, in straw and bedding, and in pastures. Early indications of FMD are excessive salivation and lameness. Infected animals usually refuse to eat or drink, and their movement is severely restricted, resulting in a dramatic weight loss. Milk production in dairy cattle will also decrease or stop.

An outbreak of FMD, either by intentional introduction of a virus or by accident, would bring our nation’s economy to a virtual standstill.

Dr. Jerry Jaax, a research veterinarian at Kansas State University and an expert in the field of biological warfare, has presented compelling testimony to Congress concerning the potential disaster that FMD poses to our livestock industry. “In terms of an economic impact, it would be devastating. Any outbreak of FMD could mean the destruction of thousands of animals, immediately impact our capacity to export agriculture products, and create severe financial losses in only a matter of days and weeks,” Jaax stated. He cited the 2001 FMD outbreak in the United Kingdom as an example of the possible fallout for any agriculture economy. “The outbreak in the UK took almost nine months to eradicate, and their economy will suffer for years to come.”

Where’s the Beef (Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture Cattle Report, 19 July 2002)

1. Texas: 15.0 Million head of cattle
2. Nebraska: 7.0 Million head of cattle
3. Kansas: 6.6 Million head of cattle
4. Oklahoma: 5.6 Million head of cattle
5. California: 5.2 Million head of cattle
6. South Dakota: 5.0 Million head of cattle
7. Missouri: 4.7 Million head of cattle
8. Iowa: 4.0 Million head of cattle
9. Wisconsin: 3.6 Million head of cattle
10. Colorado: 3.1 Million head of cattle
11. United States Total: 105.2 million head of cattle

George Teagarden, Kansas Livestock Commissioner, outlined the emergency response procedures that are in place to deal with an outbreak of FMD in the state of Kansas. He explained that all movement of livestock would immediately be halted and that a six-mile quarantine zone would be established surrounding the point where FMD was detected. At the center of the quarantine zone, a “kill zone” would be established where all cloven-hoofed animals would be destroyed. Teagarden emphasized the extent of a quarantine around the area—no animal movement from the affected area, and no movement of equipment or vehicles from the affected area. Only persons who have been fully decontaminated would be allowed to leave this area. Teagarden further explained that a full quarantine is necessary because the FMD virus can be carried or transmitted in several ways—on a person’s clothes, shoes, or boots and on tires of equipment, trucks, and other vehicles. “It is critical that all movement of livestock be halted in order to prevent further spreading of this highly infectious virus,” he stated. Teagarden explained that the movement of livestock from other states into Kansas would also be stopped, requiring coordination between law enforcement agencies in the surrounding states.

Jaax and Teagarden both cited the sweeping impact of the FMD outbreak in the United Kingdom. In England, FMD was originally detected at a hog farm in February 2001, and it quickly spread. Throughout the UK, virtually all exports of products related to sheep, swine, and cattle were stopped following the outbreak, and they will not resume for some time.

What Is Foot-and-Mouth Disease?
FMD is a serious animal health problem in several countries of the world. This viral disease is caused by livestock inhaling or otherwise coming in contact with the virus. It is usually contracted via the respiratory system and is rapidly contagious from animal to animal. It causes severe blisters, called vesicles, in the mouths and hooves of the infected animals, and FMD severely cripples animals, thus limiting their mobility and curtailing their capacity and desire to consume food. Although extremely painful to animals, FMD is not infectious to humans.

Teagarden has been conducting a series of educational meetings throughout the state in an effort to alert livestock producers and feedlot operators about the serious threat of FMD. Dr. Kevin Varner, USDA veterinarian, and Dr. George Kennedy, Kansas State veterinarian, join Teagarden in presenting helpful information. Kennedy was one of the U.S. veterinarians sent to England to help contain the FMD outbreak there.

These presentations focus on:

1. The need for each livestock producer and feedlot operator to develop a bio-security plan as a preventive measure against FMD
2. The importance of early detection and understanding warning signs of FMD in cattle, hogs, and sheep
3. Understanding the emergency plans to be implemented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Kansas Animal Health Department, and Kansas law enforcement in the event of an outbreak of FMD

As a means to prevent his type of threat to our economic infrastructure, these countermeasures are recommended:

1. Intelligence. Develop an information-sharing system concerning suspects and suspicious activity.
2. Surveillance. As the first line of defense, local livestock producers and veterinarians need to develop a bio-security plan. Everyone must be aware of the risks and symptoms associated with infectious diseases.
3. Rapid diagnostic capabilities. On-site diagnosis must be conducted, with confirmatory tests conducted at the USDA Laboratory in Plum Island, New York.
4. Rapid incident response. Local, state, and federal agencies will quickly respond, in accordance with K.S.A. 47-611, to contain and eradicate any outbreak of a foreign animal disease. The Kansas Livestock Commissioner will coordinate this response.
5. Training. All members of the livestock industry must be provided with a continuing form of training and timely updates concerning possible biological threats.

What Is Law Enforcement’s Role in Helping Prevent Harm to America’s Agriculture?
If an outbreak of FMD were deemed an act of terrorism, the FBI would assume overall responsibility for the law enforcement response and for conducting the criminal investigation. Presidential Decision Directive 39, signed on 21 June 1995, designates the FBI as the lead federal agency for managing the operational response to an attack from a terrorist or use of a weapon of mass destruction against the United States.

As part of a coordinated response to a biological attack on agriculture, law enforcement officers would play any number of roles, including:

1. Providing security and implementing a quarantine for the infected area
2. Assisting in the conduct of a criminal investigation
3. Providing assistance requested by federal agencies, such as the USDA
4. Providing assistance requested by state regulatory agencies
5. Conflict resolution

What Is the Legislative Authority?
During the 2001 legislative session in Kansas, House Bill No. 2468 was passed and signed into law, establishing clear and specific responsibilities for agencies responding to a declared state of emergency caused by animal diseases. This bill, amending K.S.A. 47-611, defined criminal conduct relative to animal health issues and made it a criminal act (level 4, nonperson felony) to expose any animal in this state to FMD. It states further that “the governor will utilize all available resources of the state government to cope with the disaster.” The Kansas Livestock Commissioner would be empowered by the governor to directly manage emergency operations during an outbreak of FMD or other form of foreign animal disease in the state.

A more critical role for Kansas law enforcement would occur before an act of bio-terrorism, by gathering intelligence that would hopefully prevent an outbreak of some intentionally introduced foreign animal disease. Kansas’ livestock industry is made up of five primary groups:

1. Livestock producers
2. Feedlot operators
3. Livestock marketers
4. Veterinarians
5. County extension agents

Agriculture-based states are vulnerable to a foreign animal disease in a number of diverse locations. Within the state of Kansas there are 462 feedlots, 104 meat-processing plants, 94 domestic elk or deer facilities, and 55 livestock markets.

Preventing an attack or outbreak of a foreign animal disease should be the primary focus of the agriculture industry working in concert with local law enforcement.

In recent town meetings throughout the state, USDA officials and the Kansas Livestock Commissioner have asked members of the livestock industry to report any suspicious activities in the proximity of a livestock operation to law enforcement authorities. This type of information and pro-active intelligence would be essential to help prevent an outbreak of an intentionally introduced foreign animal disease, rather than having to respond to a disaster after the fact.

Within federal regulations (28 CFR part 23), the KBI is expanding its existing intelligence database, called KsLEIN (the Kansas Law Enforcement Intelligence Network) to help identify any potential threat to Kansas agriculture. The purpose of this database will be to track suspicious activity and individuals reported to Kansas law enforcement and to the KBI. This computerized network will also serve as the repository for complaints and information from citizens concerning suspicious activity. KsLEIN is being modified to add an intelligence component related to bio-terrorism threats to Kansas agriculture. Currently, there are 345 law enforcement agencies participating in KsLEIN.

Biological threats to agriculture represent a new challenge for Kansas law enforcement, and it is important that we understand possible threats, vulnerabilities, available resources, and likely scenarios. To help with this understanding, several training sessions have been initiated. The Ford County Sheriff’s Office hosted a regional seminar in Dodge City involving law enforcement officers, livestock producers, and feedlot operators in the west region. Officers were able to learn firsthand about the potential threats and the impact of a bio-terrorism attack on livestock. In turn, there was a mutual understanding by livestock producers of the capabilities and resource limitations of law enforcement agencies in the west region.

In October 2002, a joint training exercise was held in Dodge City involving representatives from local, county, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, as well as emergency management personnel, the Kansas National Guard, USDA, representatives from the livestock industry, and the Kansas Animal Health Department. The training scenario focused on an intentionally introduced outbreak of FMD in western Kansas.

“This exercise was a good opportunity to test our emergency response plan, to define agency responsibilities, to identify limitations, and to make changes for the future,” Ford County Undersheriff James Lane said. One of the major problems identified in this training exercise was how to effectively deal with the movement of livestock not affected by the outbreak. For example, approximately 500 truckloads of cattle move through western Kansas every day. “Stopping the movement of livestock requires contingency plans to handle unloading, feeding, and caring for these cattle,” Lane said. “This is an enormous logistical task, requiring advance planning, cooperation, and coordination.”

Preventing and responding to threats to agriculture, particularly FMD, represent a major law enforcement challenge. “The key for law enforcement is understanding the complexity of the agriculture industry, and developing new partnerships to help prevent any bio-terrorism attack. Responding after the fact will be costly and difficult,” Undersheriff Lane stated (Homeland Security, 2002).

Title: Bioterrorism Experts Head To Atlanta
Date: March 25, 2002

Hundreds of health officials descended on Atlanta this week for an annual conference on emerging infectious diseases and were warned that terrorists might try to spread deadly germs through the food supply.

Terrorists could try to make the biological attack even more dangerous by taking down critical communications systems, according to experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"The national system was overwhelmed" by the anthrax scare last fall, said Dr. James Hughes, chief of infectious diseases at the Atlanta-based CDC. "Clearly we learned that we were not adequately prepared. This was a small attack."

The conference agenda, usually filled with sessions on obscure diseases and small outbreaks, is dominated this year by information on anthrax and smallpox -- considered among the most dangerous terrorist agents.

The anthrax-by-mail attacks killed five people last fall and sickened 13 others. The CDC said earlier this month that a Texas laboratory worker handling anthrax specimens became infected with the bacteria and is recovering.

Hughes said health experts must consider the possibility of genetically altered germs, the release of more than one agent at a time, or transmission through animals and the food supply.

To guard against deadlier attacks, the CDC is distributing $918 million to state and local health departments later this year and next year. The CDC is encouraging them to give priority to upgrading labs and training health workers on how to recognize diseases like anthrax and smallpox.

During and after the anthrax mailings, the CDC was criticized for not communicating clearly to the public about what was myth and what was a real danger. Hughes said some of the millions of dollars to be doled out to prepare for bioterrorism must address communication.

"Clearly, that was something that did not work well during the anthrax attacks," he said. "Our lives have changed. We will be prepared."

The conference also included a refresher course on smallpox, a highly contagious and deadly disease not seen in humans in a generation.

The CDC and a Moscow laboratory hold stocks of the virus, and experts worry that samples could fall into the wrong hands and be converted into a terrorist weapon.

Dr. Stanley Foster of Emory University, who was part of the team that eradicated smallpox, said the United States could react swiftly to a smallpox release, but other countries are extremely vulnerable, with no vaccine or weak public health systems.

Three Johns Hopkins University researchers suggested shutting down all air travel in and out of cities after even one case of smallpox is reported to avoid rapid spread of the disease.

"We could easily have 100 million cases and 20 million deaths," Foster said. "Are we going to be able to prevent it?" (UCLA, 2002).

Title: Farms Vulnerable To Terrorism, Study Says
Date: September 14, 2002

Abstract: Little is being done to address the real threat of a terrorist attack focused on the United States agriculture industry, said members of a government-sponsored commission that met Friday to examine the state of America's preparedness for terrorist action.

"I think the panel has to come out strongly that there needs to be more attention paid to these (agricultural threat) issues, and that these recommendations are just a little bit of what is needed to be done," said Ellen M. Gordon, administrator of the emergency management division of the Iowa Department of Public Defense.

She spoke at the quarterly meeting of an advisory panel that assesses U.S. domestic response capabilities to terrorism that involves weapons of mass destruction.

"Literally, this is an issue on which nothing is being done," said Gordon, who is also president of the National Emergency Management Association.

The commission, also known as the "Gilmore Commission," has been run by the RAND Corp. for 4 years under government contract, through the think tank's federally funded National Defense Research Institute.

The commission's recommendations have taken on new importance in light of the Sept. 11 attacks and the deadly anthrax mailings that followed them last fall.

As a think tank that supplies research and support for the initiative, and briefings on key issues, RAND wields much influence over the commission's recommendations. At Friday's meeting, RAND personnel briefed the commission on response capabilities for a bioterror attack with smallpox, and on an ongoing survey on the responsiveness to terrorism threats of emergency service personnel at the state and local levels.

In addition, a panel subcommittee headed by Dr. M. Patricia Quinlisk, medical director and state epidemiologist for the Iowa Department of Public Health, made several recommendations for dealing with the threat of agricultural terrorism, an area of particular interest to commission members.

The panel debated possible recommendations for protecting agricultural industries and products from terrorist strikes, including livestock, crops and fruit awaiting harvest, and processed food heading to grocery stores.

Dr. Quinlisk said a major problem is that while agricultural products are at risk for attack, nothing is being done to study the threat.

"The perception is that agriculture is at some risk, but there is no good idea as to what kind of threat there may be," she said.

One recommendation given to the commission was for an increase in funding for programs to study the threat, evaluate the risks and establish proper responses. Another was that more resources be committed to education and training for veterinarians about animal-borne diseases that are not common in the United States and that could be used to create an infectious agent or to contaminate food supplies.

The commission will also consider creating a system to track outbreaks of animal diseases that is based upon the health threat model used to track outbreaks of human infectious diseases.

Members of the panel noted that there are several federal agencies that have oversight of this area, especially of processed foods. The Food and Drug Administration, Customs Service and Department of Agriculture have jurisdiction over various aspects of the food chain. None, however, have shown the willingness or ability to take up this issue, they said.

Mike Wermuth, RAND's project director for the Gilmore Commission, indicated that the Central Intelligence Agency, for example, has made it clear that it has no interest in addressing the threat of agricultural terrorism.

"As far as we can tell there isn't any interest from the intelligence community," said Wermuth.

Several of the committee members agreed that the effort to protect agriculture, as well as who should be responsible for that, should be better defined in federal statutes.

In addition to agricultural terrorism, said commission chairman Jim Gilmore, the current panel of the commission is also focused on the impact of new anti-terror policies on civil liberties.

"We are focusing intently on civil liberty issues to make sure these recommendations will have the appropriate impact on the American people," Gilmore told United Press International.

This was evident during Friday's deliberations over a controversial recommendation for creating a counter-terrorism information service that would be separate from the Department of Homeland Defense, which is still being formed.

The proposed counter-terrorism information service would be designed to gather intelligence related to possible attacks from within the United States, and would be given a mandate to collect raw intelligence data from law enforcement and other sources. The agency would not, however, have the power to enforce laws.

During the debate over the proposal, Gilmore said he opposes the idea because it needed to "mature" before it can be considered. He added that that a key dilemma with the proposal is the problem of how to handle intelligence on U.S. citizens vs. that on non-citizens.

The proposal for this new agency, and the recommendations on agricultural terrorism, will be further scrutinized and revised before they are voted on later this year and become official commission recommendations.

The Gilmore Commission's fourth annual report is scheduled to be delivered to Congress and the White House on Dec. 15. It will make recommendations on various issues including the National Strategy for Homeland Security; the relationship of the new Department of Homeland Security to other U.S. government, state and local agencies and to the private sector; and the military's role in homeland security (UCLA, 2002).

Title: Bioterror Targets May Be On Farms
Date: September 20, 2002

Abstract: The United States is highly vulnerable to terrorist attacks on its livestock and food crops and needs a national plan to identify threats, direct research, gather intelligence and respond to outbreaks, a committee of experts said yesterday.

A report by the National Academy of Sciences said that while agricultural bioterrorism was "highly unlikely to result in famine or malnutrition," it could have "major direct and indirect costs to the agricultural economy."

The report also cautioned that there could be "adverse health effects" caused by agents -- such as anthrax -- that can move from animals to humans, as well as "loss of public confidence in the food system ... and widespread public concern and confusion."

The report, titled "Countering Agricultural Bioterrorism," was prepared over the past three years by the academy's National Research Council at the behest of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Parts of the original report dealing with specific case studies were put in a classified annex withheld from the published study.

"We thought about it all along -- whether we were giving anybody a recipe for how to mount an attack," said David R. Franz, a bioterrorism expert and NAS panelist who is vice president of the Southern Research Institute. "You always have to weigh your vulnerability against the need to educate people about what they're up against and to overcome their natural reticence."

Reticence, however, is no longer a problem, said Iowa State University veterinarian Harley W. Moon, chairman of the 12-member NAS panel.

"September 11 fixed that," Moon said. "People became so urgent that they went ahead on their own." But while "there's increased general awareness and agency interaction," he added, "we need a national response, as well."

In one sign of increased intensity over agricultural bioterrorism, the Agricultural Department's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service early this week was able to enlist the help of veterinarians, hog farmers, state officials and veterinary labs across the country to watch for evidence of swine disease from genetically altered bacteria cultures stolen from a Michigan State University lab a week ago.

The genetically altered bacterium, Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae, can cause pneumonia, encephalitis and death in pigs but is not dangerous to humans and is hard to spread. "If you were going to pick a pathogen, this would not be high on the list," said Ron DeHaven, deputy administrator at APHIS.

Nevertheless, because of "the potential of it to be a bioterrorist event," DeHaven held a conference call to enlist help from stakeholders at all levels of the pig farming industry.

"If this had happened 13 or 14 months ago, we probably wouldn't have thought twice about it, but we have to assume the worst and be prepared," he said.

According to the NAS panel, preparation requires a national coordinating center. Panelist R. James Cook, a Washington State University plant pathologist, said the participants wanted to make the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention their model. The CDC is a research center and early warning system for outbreaks of human disease.

"We don't know what will happen or whether there will even be bricks and mortar," Cook said. "We just need to be able to do what the CDC does -- get the information we need in real time."

The panel noted that the Agriculture Department already has a well-developed infrastructure to deal with plant pathogens and animal diseases that come into the country accidentally. These have included San Francisco's Mediterranean fruit flies, in the early 1980s, to Florida's citrus canker in the 1990s and today's mosquito-borne West Nile virus.

But the panel cautioned that deliberate infestation demanded a far more extensive menu of precautions, including stringent border monitoring, better overseas intelligence and research to develop resistant plant strains and assemble genetic libraries of likely "threat agents."

Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman noted in a statement that the department has several initiatives similar to those outlined in the report, including identifying a priority list of threat agents, allocating increased funds for bioterrorism research and strengthening its laboratories.

"Because of these aggressive efforts, our nation's food and agriculture infrastructure is stronger today than a year ago," she said. "However, threats remain, and we must work in a responsible and aggressive manner to continue strengthening these programs."

The NAS panel's Moon praised USDA for increasing funding to establish a network of diagnostic labs -- five for livestock and five for plants -- that could be called on to make quick assessments of dangerous pathogens even as they are discovered (UCLA, 2002).

Title: US Farms Called Vulnerable To terrorism
Date: November 22, 2002

Abstract: They scarcely seem like the classic tools of terrorists: mooing cows, oinking pigs, and clucking chickens. But specialists in public health and agriculture warn that the nation's livestock and crops remain particularly vulnerable to terrorists, threatening the US agricultural system with viral and bacterial infections that could cripple the economy.

Computer models show that an infection such as foot and mouth disease, which decimated Britain's beef industry in 2001, could sweep through 44 states within two weeks of its introduction at a handful of farms in a single state, resulting in 48 million livestock being put to premature deaths.

Although many of the infections, including foot and mouth, pose no direct threat to human health, the economic consequences would be ruinous, specialists said at the Harvard-sponsored BioSecurity 2002 conference, and would seed considerable doubt about the safety of the nation's food supply.

Foot and mouth virus ravaged agriculture as well as tourism in England, forcing quarantine measures against 10,000 farms and the destruction of 6 million cows, sheep, and pigs.

''It is a perfect weapon for doing the kinds of things terrorists do,'' said Dr. Thomas J. McGinn III, assistant state veterinarian in North Carolina. ''As a target, you can imagine why they would hit something like this and as a weapon, they could spread it wherever they want.''

Federal authorities consider the threat so significant that defense against agricultural bioterrorism has a special place in the newly created Department of Homeland Security. Also, last summer, in an exercise conducted at the behest of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, 40 veterinarians, emergency planners, and military authorities convened for a boardroom drill to assess the potential impact of bioterrorism targeted at farms and food processing sites.

The exercise, dubbed Silent Prairie, assumed that the destruction could begin with something as common as a cotton swab dabbed with viral particles.

The dean of the Harvard School of Public Health is so troubled by those threats that he called for the creation of an agency akin to the US Centers for Disease Control to monitor the welfare of the nation's crops and plants. Barry R. Bloom, the Harvard dean who served on a panel evaluating the threat of bioterrorism, told hundreds of public health, military, and private security authorities at the conference that the United States is woefully lacking in its ability to swiftly identify contaminants being introduced into livestock and plants.

''There's relatively little surveillance,'' Bloom said. ''It's an enormous task, and we're not prepared.''

That remains the case even though the potential for terrorists to cause illness and fear by infecting the food supply became dramatically evident 18 years ago, when members of a fringe religious cult spiked salad bars at 10 Oregon restaurants with salmonella. The result: 750 people became ill.

The damage that could be wrought by a more widespread attack, initiated at multiple sites, is profound, Bloom and other specialists said. Agriculture generates $1 trillion in economic impact annually, accounting for 13 percent of the gross domestic product.

Farming is an exceptionally porous industry from a security standpoint, with 24,000 livestock ferried out of just one state, North Carolina, every day, destined for markets across the world. If terrorists chose a virus such as foot and mouth disease, it would spread with stunning efficiency. Studies have shown that the virus can be carried by the wind up to 40 miles; once introduced to a herd, it is 100 percent infectious.

''If someone's determined enough to get something in, they will get it in,'' said Dr. Cindy S. Lovern, assistant director of emergency preparedness and response for the American Veterinary Medical Association. ''Foot and mouth disease can be brought in on a Q-Tip or the bottom of your boot. That's why it's so critical to find it fast and to treat it quickly.''

Foot and mouth is often not fatal to animals, but in the short term produces hideous blistering, and in the long term, impairs their use as productive livestock. The disease rarely produces severe illness in humans, although people can transmit it to animals. Specialists at the BioSecurity conference conjured scenarios in which other viruses and bacteria (including plague, anthrax, and tularemia) could be introduced into animal populations, with the ultimate goal of spreading illness to humans. That probably would prove not to be a particularly efficient mode of transmission but would spawn considerable fear. Early detection of a biological attack is paramount, specialists said.

But the arrival of West Nile virus, blamed for sickening 3,700 people this year and killing more than 200, demonstrates how unprepared the nation is for animal disease outbreaks. Until Dr. Tracey McNamara began testing dead crows near the Bronx Zoo, the emergence of West Nile had gone undetected. ''We still haven't done what needs to be done,'' McNamara said. ''Everybody pays lip service that animals can serve as sentinels of disease outbreak and bioterrorism, but it seems to be a hard concept to fund'' (UCLA, 2002).

Title: WHO Issues Alert On Food Terrorism
Date: January 31, 2003

Abstract: The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that terrorist groups could try to contaminate food supplies and has urged countries to strengthen their surveillance.

In a special report, the leading UN health agency, said an attack using chemical or biological agents in food could lead to people dying or contracting serious illnesses like cancer.

The agency said it had not received any specific warnings of such an attack.

But it added that it viewed deliberate food contamination as "a real and current threat".

'Potential is There'

The 45-page booklet entitled Terrorist Threats to Food (click for PDF file from WHO) warns of the potential insertion of pesticides, viruses and parasites in food as "a way of deliberately harming civilian populations".

It cites examples of intentional food attacks of the past, including a salmonella outbreak in the US state of Oregon.

In that incident, more than 750 people became ill, after members of a cult contaminated restaurant salad bars.

The WHO director of food safety, Jurgen Schlundt, said the booklet was not designed to alarm but rather to try to alert governments to boost their surveillance and emergency response measures.

"There has already been some examples of deliberate contamination of the food chain. It's only very few, but there has been some examples. And we do know that the potential is there," he said.

"The way to try to deal with it is to strengthen some of the systems that we already have in place, but they need in some cases strengthening of certain areas."

Mr Schlundt added that natural outbreaks show the potential dangers of food-borne disease.

He said about 1.5 million people already die each year due to diarrhoea-related illnesses caught from eating contaminated food.

The WHO says if terrorists deliberately add harmful agents, many more people could be left suffering from acute long-term effects, including paralysis, foetal abnormalities and increased rates of chronic illnesses like cancer (BBC, 2003).

Title: U.S. Agriculture Could Be Vulnerable To Terrorists
Date: February 21, 2003

Abstract: Could terrorists be lurking in fields and behind barns, ready to poison the plants and animals that provide the source of the nation's food?

It's not an impossible scenario, says Michael Harrington, executive director of the Western Association of Agricultural Experiment Station Directors.

"Nobody thought anybody would crash a plane into the World Trade Center, either," Harrington said. "If someone were intent on attacking the agricultural and food system it could be done."

Agri-terrorism could damage the economy, kill people or make them sick, and cause the kind of upheaval the nation went through when anthrax was found circulating through the mail, he said.

"You don't have to be a rocket scientist," said Harrington, who gave the keynote address recently at the 2003 International Chile Conference in Las Cruces. "You don't have to have access to nuclear materials."

Harrington said there have been at least five acts of agri-terrorism in the United States and 17 worldwide.

In one attack, he said, a radical group claimed responsibility for releasing Mediterranean fruit flies in California. The quarter-inch Medfly attacks more than 250 varieties of fruits, nuts and vegetables.

In 1997, a Medfly infestation threatened Florida's nearly $7 billion agricultural industry.

Agriculture accounts for about $1 trillion in economic activity each year in the United States, he said. As an example, he said, destruction of New Mexico's chili industry could cause a local economic impact of at least $250 million.

Arturo Jurado, a Las Cruces pepper farmer who is chairman of the New Mexico Chile Commission, said the long-term impact would be at least 10 times greater.

"We have to be prepared for it," he said. "The best thing is information ... knowing neighbors, know what they're doing and when they're doing it."

Other vulnerable areas include processing and transportation of food, Harrington said.

"The United States has had and continues to have the safest food supply in the world, so people are a little nervous talking about this, including myself," he said.

Concern over terrorist acts has caused the U.S. Agriculture Department to invest $328 million in agri-security, he said.

Researchers are developing animal vaccines and looking at breeding animals and plants with resistance to some toxic agents. Agricultural extension service agents are developing emergency plans and educating themselves about potential risks.

Harrington said the USDA and state agricultural schools are forming another emergency response network.

Some see endless possibilities for farm- and food-related terrorist acts.

"I think one of the biggest places to start is the international foods coming in," said Wes Eaton, who works at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces and attended the conference. "We need to guarantee that it's not laced with something" (UCLA, 2003).

Title: Federal Agencies Begin Bioterrorism Test
Date: March 25, 2003

Abstract: A crop-duster sprayed a harmless substance above a field of cattle and oil pumps Monday in a test to see if weather radar could detect a bioterrorist attack.

It was the first spray of a three-week Army test over central Oklahoma. The plane will make 261 runs, dropping grain alcohol, clay dust and a mix of water and polyethylene glycol -- a common ingredient in lotions and mascara.

The harmless materials were chosen to produce a mist resembling the airborne particles that might be produced by a bioterrorism attack.

The test, taking place in Oklahoma because of the state's advanced weather radar system, will help Army and Environmental Protection Agency scientists determine how well radar can detect such materials.

The new system would keep track of small planes and tiny puffs of particles that typical radars ignore. It will take weeks to analyze the data and determine how successful the test was, Army officials said.

The goal is to develop computer technology for a nationwide bioterrorism detection system, said Robert Lyons, with the Army's nuclear, biological and chemical detection program. The government hopes to install high-tech software in about 150 radar stations across the country.

The EPA has conducted similar tests in Maryland, Utah and Florida since early 2001, before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The government planned to start the test Feb. 24. But after residents of Goldsby complained, officials re-evaluated the program and deleted two of the originally planned test materials -- powdered egg whites and a sterilized natural pesticide. Those materials were sprayed over the ocean near Key West, Fla., last April with no ill effects (UCLA, 2003).

Title: Bioterrorism And The Food Supply
Date: October 1, 2004
Source: Directions Magazine

Abstract: The goal of terrorists is to strike fear in the hearts of their targets.This can take many forms. They may wish to cause death, shock, economic disruption, loss of faith in authorities, psychological trauma, dread, or just uncertainty.Perhaps the act that would most readily accomplish this would be an attack on the United States' food supply.Protecting the food supply has been a priority for public health officials for decades.Traditionally, industry and regulators have depended on spot-checks of manufacturing conditions and random sampling of final products to ensure safe food.This system is seen as more reactive than preventive because it finds problems after they have occurred rather than as the food is being prepared.

So what is at stake? Here are some interesting statistics about the food supply-chain in the United States.These are just from just the Mid-Atlantic region.

Mid-Atlantic Food Supply

  • Number of farms = over 100,000
  • Number of post-farm businesses = nearly 150,000
  • Private Sector Food Business = over 12% of private sector businesses involve food
  • Collective Sales = over $300 billion
  • Employment = nearly 12% of the workforce
The introduction by terrorists of noxious or lethal materials into foods or beverages could result in undetected, rapid and widespread distribution within the food supply-chain that relies on distributed food production, processing and transportation firms.There are really three types of terrorist threats to the food supply.

1. The use of food or water as a delivery mechanism for pathogens, chemicals, and/or other harmful substances for the purpose of causing human illness or death.
2. The introduction of anti-crop or anti-livestock agents into agricultural systems.
3. The physical disruption of the flow of food/water as a result of the destruction of transportation or other vital infrastructure.

So how vulnerable is our food supply? That is a question that has been asked by scientists and government officials.The answer lies in an analysis of the "food" supply-chain.The supply chain begins with a vast number of producers (farms) and the numerous transportation, processing and distribution facilities that are all part of bringing the food to the point of consumption.It is estimated that 98 percent of all U.S.farms are family farms.This small, highly distributed food production network creates security, monitoring and tracking challenges. Very large factory farms make up only 3 percent of the total farms but contribute more than 40 percent of the output.In addition to being vulnerable to terrorist attacks, this system makes it exceedingly difficult to trace back and identify the source of the contaminated food.

Figure 1 examines the likelihood of a bioterrorism attack against the supply and the impact of such an attack.Four recent GAO reports found gaps in federal controls for protecting agriculture and the food supply.Local, state and federal officials must do even more to protect our food supply from tampering. A new comprehensive approach is needed if we are to safeguard our food supply.

1. Document the "food" supply-chain
2. Analyze risks and vulnerabilities

3. Identify critical control points

4. Establish monitoring procedures

5. Develop response plan

6. Develop reporting and tracking system

7. Develop system reliability checks

The Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 (the Bioterrorism Act) directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to take steps to protect the public from a threatened or actual terrorist attack on the supply.

Exempt from these regulations are the transportation vehicles that hold food only in the usual course of business.As you could imagine the ability to attack our food supply while in transit from the production site is a critical area and possibly the area that has the least amount of protection currently.It is important to recognize that this is only one of many exceptions granted under the act.

Protecting U.S.agriculture and ensuring safe and wholesome meat and poultry is one of the primary challenges facing USDA.The office of the Inspector General of the United States Department of Agriculture's chief missions is to ensure the safety of the food supply, both by auditing food safety programs to detect deficiencies and recommend improvements and by investigating criminal activity involving the intentional contamination of food products.They also monitor the processing and sale of adulterated meat, poultry, and egg products; and the substitution, adulteration or other misrepresentation of food products regulated or inspected by USDA.

The Department of Homeland Security in June 2004 announced the first Designations and Certifications under the Support Anti-terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies (SAFETY) Act.The SAFETY Act provides liability limitations for makers and sellers of qualified anti-terrorism technologies, including those that may be used to protect the nation's food supply.DHS is also developing a new National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center (NBACC) to support the law enforcement and intelligence communities in their biodefense responsibilities.

The Center will apply the newest advances in science to the challenges both of biological threat characterization and of bioforensics, strengthening the nation's ability to determine the source of a biological agent used in an attack and strengthening deterrence.In June 2004, DHS announced its new Regional Technology Integration (RTI) initiative.RTI provides a mechanism for working directly with urban areas on infrastructure protection (including protection of the food supply) to develop and deliver new technologies as part of a regional security response.The program focuses on regional collaboration, private sector solutions, measurable objectives and continuous evaluation, and communicating best practices and lessons learned to other communities, states, Congress, the Administration, and other federal agencies.

The support is there.Now all that is needed is a workable platform that can provide an economically feasible solution to safeguarding our food supply.A critical component of this platform will, without question, be a GIS system that supports tracking and traceability.Incorporated into the platform will also be RFID capabilities to trace the product throughout the food supply-chain. These hybrid tags will also serve to detect tampering and integrated with new biosensors will alert food processors to possible contaminates.But this platform will not be cheap.The question is can the platform be developed and implemented in time to protect the population from a bioterrorist attack against our food supply? Only time will answer that question.

The food supply is by far the most vulnerable to a bioterrorism attack.This year we learned from news reports that terrorists have developed materials to manufacture salmonella and botulinum, and they may have intended to poison the food supply.Even more alarming was a Washington Post article on biological weapons developed by the South African government under the apartheid regime, including a biological agent created by splicing a common strain of E.coli with a toxin-producing gene from Clostridium perfringens.These are only a handful of examples of food bioterrorism that demonstrate the health and economic damage that could be inflicted through an attack on the food supply.

We need to continue to strengthen our food supply surveillance systems and improve communication and coordination among local, state and federal agencies to heighten the ability to recognize and quickly respond to food-borne outbreaks.This will not be cheap or able to be accomplished in a short period of time (Directions Magazine, 2004).

Title: Agroterrorism: Threats And Preparedness
Date: February 4, 2005
Source: U.S. Congress

The potential of terrorist attacks against agricultural targets (agroterrorism) is increasingly recognized as a national security threat, especially after the events of September 11, 2001. Agroterrorism is a subset of bioterrorism, and is defined as the deliberate introduction of an animal or plant disease with the goal of generating fear, causing economic losses, and/or undermining stability. Attacks against agriculture are not new, and have been conducted or considered by both nation-states and substate organizations throughout history.

The results of an agroterrorist attack may include major economic crises in the agricultural and food industries, loss of confidence in government, and possibly human casualties. Humans could be at risk in terms of food safety or public health, especially if the chosen disease is transmissible to humans (zoonotic). Public opinion may be particularly sensitive to a deliberate outbreak of disease affecting the food supply. Public confidence in government could be eroded if authorities appear unable to prevent such an attack or to protect the population’s food supply.

Agriculture has several characteristics that pose unique problems for managing the threat. Agricultural production is geographically disbursed in unsecured environments. Livestock are frequently concentrated in confined locations, and then transported and commingled with other herds. Pest and disease outbreaks can quickly halt economically important exports. Many veterinarians lack experience with foreign animal diseases that are resilient and endemic in foreign countries.

Agriculture and food production generally have received less attention in counter-terrorism and homeland security efforts. But more recently, agriculture has garnered more attention in the expanding field of terrorism studies. Laboratory and
response systems are being upgraded to address the reality of agroterrorism. Congress has held hearings on agroterrorism and enacted laws and appropriations with agroterrorism-related provisions. The executive branch has
responded by implementing the new laws, issuing several presidential directives, and creating liaison and coordination offices. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has studied several issues related to agroterrorism.

Appropriations and user fees for USDA homeland security activities have about doubled from a $156 million “pre-September 11” baseline in FY2002 to $325 million in FY2004. Two supplemental appropriations acts added nearly $110 million in both FY2002 and FY2003. For FY2005, the department requested $651 million in appropriations and user fees, but only certain agroterrorism-related items were specifically mentioned in committee reports. The President’s budget proposal for FY2006 will summarize the enacted FY2005 homeland security funding for USDA.

In addition to appropriations activity, bills addressing agroterrorism preparedness and coordination among agencies are likely to be introduced in the 109th Congress. A GAO report on coordination between USDA and DHS is expected by March 1, 2005. This report will be updated as events warrant (U.S. Congress, 2005).

Title: Analyzing A bioterror Attack On The Food Supply: The Case Of Botulinum Toxin In Milk
Date: April 20, 2005
Source: PubMed

Abstract: We developed a mathematical model of a cows-to-consumers supply chain associated with a single milk-processing facility that is the victim of a deliberate release of botulinum toxin. Because centralized storage and processing lead to substantial dilution of the toxin, a minimum amount of toxin is required for the release to do damage. Irreducible uncertainties regarding the dose–response curve prevent us from quantifying the minimum effective release. However, if terrorists can obtain enough toxin, and this may well be possible, then rapid distribution and consumption result in several hundred thousand poisoned individuals if detection from early symptomatics is not timely. Timely and specific in-process testing has the potential to eliminate the threat of this scenario at a cost of <1 cent per gallon and should be pursued aggressively. Investigation of improving the toxin inactivation rate of heat pasteurization without sacrificing taste or nutrition is warranted.

Among bioterror attacks not involving genetic engineering, the three scenarios that arguably pose the greatest threats to humans are a smallpox attack, an airborne anthrax attack, and a release of botulinum toxin in cold drinks (1). The methods of dissemination in these three scenarios are, respectively, the person-to-person spread of a contagious disease, the outdoor dispersal of a highly durable and lethal agent, and the large-scale storage and production and rapid widespread distribution and consumption of beverages containing the most poisonous substance known. The first two scenarios have been the subject of recent systems modeling studies (2–5), and here we present a detailed systems analysis of the third scenario. For concreteness, we consider a release in the milk supply, which, in addition to its symbolic value as a target, is characterized by the rapid distribution of 20 billion gallons per year in the U.S.; indeed, two natural Salmonella outbreaks in the dairy industry each infected 200,000 people (6). Nonetheless, our methods are applicable to similar food products, such as fruit and vegetable juices, canned foods (e.g., processed tomato products), and perhaps grainbased and other foods possessing the bow-tie-shaped supply chain (PubMed, 2005).

Title: Targets For Terrorism: Food And Agriculture
Date: January, 2006

Abstract: Is America’s food supply safe from terrorist attacks?

No. The United States spends more than $1 billion every year to keep America’s food supply safe, but even without terrorism, food-borne diseases cause about 5,000 deaths and 325,000 hospitalizations each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson told a congressional terrorism panel in November 2001 that he was “particularly concerned” about food-related terrorism, which could involve either attempts to introduce poisons into the food supply or attacks that would ruin domestically cultivated crops or livestock. Have there been past terrorist attacks in the United States involving food?

Yes. In 1984, members of an Oregon religious commune—followers of an Indian-born guru named Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh—tried to influence a local election by poisoning salad bars with salmonella bacteria to sicken voters. Although no one died, 751 people became ill. There have been a couple of other attempts to deliberately contaminate food with biological agents since World War II, but these have been criminal acts, not terrorism.

There have been no documented terrorist attacks on U.S. agriculture. But the number and variety of food-borne illnesses and crop and livestock diseases make it hard to distinguish terrorist attacks from natural events. It took a year for U.S. officials to conclude that the Oregon attack was deliberate.

How might terrorists attack the food supply?

The Oregon attack took place at local restaurants, near the end of the food-distribution chain, but an attack could occur at any point between farm and table. Imported food could be tainted with biological or chemical agents before entering the United States, or toxins could be introduced at a domestic food-processing plant. Crops or livestock raised on American soil could also be targeted. Experts also worry that terrorists might try to spread false rumors about unsafe foods via the mass media or the Internet.

How much damage could an attack on the U.S. food supply cause?

Some attacks could cause illnesses and deaths, depending upon how quickly the contamination was detected. But even attacks that don’t directly affect human health could cause panic, undermine the economy, and even erode confidence in the U.S. government, experts say. Agriculture exports amount to about $140 billion a year, and many American jobs have at least an indirect connection to food and agriculture. A 1970s plot by Palestinian terrorists to inject mercury into Jaffa oranges reduced Israel’s exports of citrus fruit to Europe by 40 percent, and a 1989 incident in which a shipment of Chilean grapes to the United States tested positive for cyanide led to international trade suspensions that cost Chile $200 million. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that an attack on livestock—a successful attempt to infect American cattle with a contagious disease such as foot-and-mouth, for example—could cause between $10 billion and $30 billion in damage to the U.S. economy.

What kinds of terrorists might mount a food-related attack?

We don’t know. Concerns about such attacks have grown since September 11. Some forms of attack wouldn’t require a large or highly skilled organization and could come from foreign groups like Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network, domestic terrorists, eco-terrorists, a cult-like group such as Oregon’s Rajneeshees, or an unaffiliated individual—anyone who wanted to undermine the economy and spread panic. Elsewhere, groups that have threatened agroterrorist attacks include Tamil militants in Sri Lanka and British activists opposed to chemical and biological warfare.

Who is in charge of food safety?

The two main agencies are the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), a part of the Department of Agriculture. The FSIS handles meat, poultry, and egg inspections, and the FDA inspects everything else. State and local agencies, other federal bodies, and foreign inspection services are also sometimes involved in food safety.

Many experts have long favored consolidating food-safety programs in a single agency, and calls for a consolidation have been repeated since September 11. But food manufacturers and some members of Congress have grown accustomed to the current system and oppose its overhaul (CFR, 2006).

Title: Responding To The Threat Of Agricultural Bioterrorism
Date: November 9, 2006
Source: Directions Magazine

In October 2004, Kevin Coleman discussed the susceptibility of the U.S. food supply chain to bioterrorist attack. Given events surrounding the recent E. coli outbreak in spinach grown in the U.S., now is an ideal time to revisit the subject of food safety by expanding upon the place of agriculture in the United States and some of the ways in which geospatial technology, and its practitioners, can address this area of homeland security.

The vital roles played by agriculture (and those employed in that sector of our economy) are largely underappreciated by many people. These roles include the provision of food, maintenance of healthy ecosystem function, and enhancement of aesthetic qualities. However, the "selling point" most often used to convey the importance of agriculture, and to capture the attention of decision makers, is simple economics. Various reports published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Economic Research Service (ERS) show that agriculture is a multi-billion dollar industry, with the total value of agricultural products exceeding $117 billion dollars, and that of agriculture and related industries topping $563 billion.

While many of the plant and animal products grown or raised in the U.S. are used domestically, a significant portion is also exported to other nations. In 2004, total U.S. agricultural exports were estimated at $61.4 billion - with agriculture being one of the few trade sectors in which the U.S. often exports a higher value commodity than we import. While these national figures are certainly impressive, the economics of agriculture is perhaps even more important at the state and county scales. Consider, for instance, that farm income accounts for over 30% of the total income in many rural U.S. counties.

So, the "grand challenge" for domestic food safety and security programs is then twofold: To ensure access to a safe, reliable and inexpensive food supply and, at the same time, to maintain the profitability of plant and animal production systems. However, our collective ability to meet this challenge is under constant threat.

We face, for example, the nearly impossible task of stopping invasive pests and introduced pathogens from entering the country. Unfortunately, the number of such introductions will not only continue, but likely increase, if for no other reason than sheer logistics. In fiscal year (FY) 2005, the U.S. imported nearly 27 million metric tons of agricultural products (excluding wine and malt beverages). Of this amount, significantly less than 5% was subjected to thorough inspection. Despite this low inspection rate, the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection agency seized a daily average of over 1,100 prohibited agricultural products at ports of entry in FY 2005, including 147 agricultural pests.

The financial impact of disease and pest management is significant, costing the agricultural industry in the neighborhood of $3 billion per year. The projected economic impact of one disease alone, Asian soybean rust (first introduced into the U.S. in 2004), is upwards of $2 billion. This, and future introductions may result in restrictions on domestic and foreign trade, disruptions in food production, changes in consumer perceptions and confidence, and employment declines within all aspects of agriculture and food markets.

Given the monetary importance of the agricultural sector, it is not an overstatement to say that the economic well-being of the nation, and that of many rural communities, is susceptible to significant disruption. Several additional factors further expose U.S. agriculture to the harm posed by natural and intentional introductions of pests and pathogens. These "multiplying" factors include a genetic simplification of planted landscapes and food animal lines that makes crops and livestock more susceptible to disease, the difficulty of monitoring plant and animal conditions (i.e., situational awareness) over large geographic areas, and the concentrations of crops and livestock production at local and regional scales.

One framework which can be used to plan for and execute our response to agricultural biosecurity events is the emergency response cycle outlined by hazards researchers. Here the term "hazard" is considered broadly, and can be applied equally to natural events, technological failures and biological agents. The cycle of emergency response begins with "preparedness" - how people and places plan to deal with a hazard event. Eventually, a disaster happens (such as a tornado) and it tests how well we have prepared for that hazard. We respond to the emergency by rescuing people and addressing other immediate threats to life, limb and property. Following response is the recovery stage, which includes "cleaning up" after the disaster and other efforts geared toward getting back to "normal" conditions. Next, and often concurrent with the later recovery activities, is the mitigation phase. Here, the disaster and our reaction to it are assessed, and ways to improve preparedness, response and recovery are identified. Finally we transition back to the preparedness stage, await the next hazard and begin the whole process again.

This same emergency response cycle can be used to guide our actions in the event of a biological hazard and, I believe, contribute to an operational definition of food safety and agricultural biosecurity:

"The ability to develop, maintain, and execute a rapid and effective emergency response to disease outbreaks and invasive species in order to ensure a safe, constant, and profitable supply of food, feed, and fiber." (Author's unpublished quote)
Geospatial technologies have played, and will continue to play, a key role in the development, maintenance and execution of emergency response cycles related to food security and agricultural biosecurity events. One example that illustrates this role is a spatial model for locating large-scale livestock carcass disposal sites.

Consider for a moment a scenario where Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) is detected in beef cattle within a commercial feedlot. After confirming the diagnosis, the relevant state department of agriculture working in conjunction with the USDA will implement some form of an animal carcass disposal plan. That plan will involve destroying cattle from the affected feedlot, as well as those from neighboring operations within an established quarantine zone, to prevent the spread of the disease. For some states, such as Kansas, the preferred disposal mechanism is burial. The next logical question to ask, then, is where to bury as many as several hundred thousand head of cattle found within the quarantine zone?

Figure 1.
Agricultural biosecurity emergency response cycle
(after Thomas et al. 2002, Galloway 2003, and Cutter 2003).

To help solve this problem, we can view and simultaneously analyze a series of thematic data layers in a GIS-based landscape suitability model to prepare our emergency response. Geographical datasets including environmental and cultural information related to soils, geology, water resources, transportation networks, threatened and endangered species, and population can be combined into automated digital workflows using functionality built into commercial GIS software packages. The model created for the State of Kansas currently uses twelve data layers that represent "exclusion criteria" developed by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE). These data are then subjected to various geoprocessing procedures to produce maps that identify the cumulative geographic area falling within the spatial extent of one or more of the predefined exclusion criteria - in other words, the least preferred sites for carcass burial.

Running this model yields results such as that shown here for Finney County, Kansas. Green areas on the map represent locations that do not violate any exclusion criteria and, therefore, would be preferred burial sites. Based upon the KDHE exclusion criteria, nearly 40% of the county would be unsuitable for animal burial. It is important to note that licensed animal feeding operations are required by the state to develop a plan for onsite livestock burial. However, a visual comparison between actual feedyard locations (not shown on map for security reasons) and preferred mass burial locations indicates a potential flaw in this strategy - and that onsite burial may not actually be in the long term interests of regional populations.

Given the automated nature of this method, emergency managers now have a sound procedure, based upon good science, for rapidly identifying suitable burial sites before and during an event. The ability to "pre-emptively" target preferred sites for burial is especially helpful when negotations are required to obtain burial rights on private lands.

After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, several post-event analyses have highlighted the importance of both GIS and geographic data in providing rapid and effective emergency response. Summarized from Galloway (2003), some of those key findings include:

1. Having geographic datasets for critical infrastructure already developed and on-hand prior to an emergency
2. Having the human and information technology infrastructure in place to facilitate sharing geographic information
3. The importance of graphical forms of communication, such as maps, in conveying information to both decision makers and the public
4. Having made a "pre-response" investment in developing relevant decision support tools

We must take these hard lessons learned in the aftermath of intentional attacks on urban centers and apply them equally, and urgently, to the area of agricultural biosecurity. As noted by Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) in 2001, our nation’s crops and livestock are at very high risk. It is time for the U.S. to make an appropriate investment in food safety and security (Directions Magazine, 2006).

Title: Al-Qaida's Food Bioterror Threat Looms Over UK
Date: June 6, 2011
Source: Times of India

Abstract: Britain is facing an emerging food "bioterrorism" threat from extremist groups like the al-Qaida, a media report said on Sunday.

The British government's security advisers have warned manufacturers and retailers that terror groups might try to poison food, drinks supply in the country to cause widespread casualties, 'The Sunday Telegraph' reported.

The warning from Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI), which operates as part of the security service, came in the wake of deadly E.coli outbreak in Germany which has highlighted the vulnerability of the food chain and how quickly bacteria can spread, the report said.

The highly virulent strain has already claimed some 18 lives and left more than 1,800 seriously ill in Germany.

The CPNI has, in fact, asked food and drinks producers, suppliers and supermarkets to tighten security at plants and depots.

A CPNI said, "UK suffers from a low level of malicious contamination of food by the bad, the mad and the sad. Now it has to consider possibility of food supplies being disrupted by politically motivated groups" (Times of India, 2011).

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 “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 “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: Expert Warns Of Bioattack On U.S. Cattle Industry
Date: February 21, 2012
Bio Prep Watch

Abstract: According to a terrorism expert, a low-tech biological attack on the cattle industry of the United States using virulent foot and mouth disease may be a simple way for terrorists to damage the economy.

According to an article in the FBI’s Law Enforcement Bulletin, Dean Olsen, a former commander of the Douglas County Sherriff’s Department in Omaha, Neb., said that agroterrorism has become more attractive to terrorists dealing with dwindling resources and leadership. Such an attack would lead to major economic stress, but would be relatively simple and cheap to implement, Government Security News reports.

“Every level of the food chain, including farms, feedlots, chemical storage facilities, meatpacking plants, and distribution operations, remains vulnerable to agroterrorism,” Olsen said, according to Government Security News.

Olsen, who participated in the regional Joint Terrorism Task Force before his retirement in 2008, recommended that law enforcement agencies put plans into place to prevent such attacks before they happen. He said that experts agree that foot and mouth disease, which can affect cloven hoofed animals like deer, pigs, sheep and cattle, is the most ominous threat to the food chain in the U.S.

Olsen said that an outbreak could be spread to 25 states in five days when animals are moved from one farm to another. He warned that law enforcement officers investigating livestock thefts should look at them from an agroterror perspective and that such incidents should be reported to their state intelligence fusion centers or threat-integration centers (Bio Prep Watch, 2012).

Title: Department Of Homeland Security Revises Kansas Biosafety Lab Assessment
Date: March 6, 2012
Source: Bio Prep Watch

Abstract: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has revised an assessment of the proposed high-level animal biosafety lab in Kansas, dramatically lowering the assessed likelihood that Foot and Mouth Disease would escape.

In a 923 page risk assessment released on Friday, the DHS estimated that the risk that FMD would escape from the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility during the facility’s 50 year lifespan was less than 0.11 percent. When excluding catastrophic events such as tornadoes and earthquakes, the risk drops below 0.008 percent, Nature reports.

The previous risk assessment in 2010 estimated the risk of such an event was 70 percent. The National Academies concluded that the 2010 assessment had multiple major shortcomings. The academies will evaluate the new risk assessment later this spring.

“(The new risk assessment) reaffirms that we can build a safe and secure facility to meet this important mission,” Tara O’Toole, the DHS under secretary for science and technology, said, according to Nature.

Bill Dorsett, a member of the group No NBAF in Kansas, questioned the validity of the new assessment.

“There’s no way that an analysis can get it down that precisely,” Dorsett said, according to Nature. “Because a big portion of the risk has to do with people and people’s behavior. That starts with congressional funding for the lab — and continued congressional funding for its maintenance.  We’re trying to predict what Congress will do ten years down the line.”

Congress provided the lab with $50 million in funding in 2012 on the condition of the new risk assessment and its appraisal by the National Academies. President Obama’s 2013 budget proposal did not request any money for the construction of the lab. The proposal also impels the National Academies to evaluate whether present disease threats justify the potential $1 billion costs of the facility (Bio Prep Watch, 2012).

Title: Congress Should Take Agroterror Threat Seriously, Expert Says
Date: March 12, 2012
Source: Bio Prep Watch

Abstract:  According to an editorial by Tom Quaife of the Dairy Herd Network, the threat of agroterrorism should be taken much more seriously by members of Congress and the Obama administration.

Quaife has attended four agroterrorism conferences sponsored by the Federal Bureau of Investigation since 2005. Upon seeing the seriousness of the issue and simulations of how quickly infectious animal diseases could spread within the United States, he said that it has been difficult watching the uncertainty behind the proposed animal disease testing facility in Manhattan, Kan., Dairy Herd Network reports.

“It’s been hard to watch the political haggling that is taking place over the proposed National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan, Kan.,” Quaife said, according to Dairy Herd Network. “The Obama administration wants to reassess the cost and scope of the project and Congress has been slow to approve funding.”

According to Quaife, if an international attack were to occur on the world’s food supply, it could cost billions of dollars and undermine the public’s confidence. While Quaife was comforted that the proposed state-of-the-art facility would be built to address agroterrorism threats, he is concerned that the facility wouldn’t be operational until 2018.

“The need is there and a plan is in place to address it,” Quaife said, according to Dairy Herd Network. “It is time that the Obama administration and Congress start paying attention to the threat and back it up with a solid commitment to the NBAF” (Bio Prep Watch, 2012).

Title: Halal Beef Recalled Due To Possible Listeria Contamination
Date: April 1, 2012
Outbreak News

Abstract: The Chicago-based establishment, Mosul Kubba, is recalling 1,100 lbs. of stuffed, layered beef products after the bacterium, Listeria monocytogenes was discovered during routine Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) testing.

According to an FSIS news release Thursday, the fully cooked, ready-to-eat, halal beef products were produced on March 20, 2012, and then shipped to a single distributor in Detroit, Mich.

The products subject to recall are 2-lb vacuum-packed packages containing two, 10-inch pieces of “Kubba of wheat”; and 20-lb cases, each containing 10, 2-lb packages of “Kubba of wheat.” The packaging may bear the case code 12082 and establishment number “EST. 21576″.

There have been no reports of illness.

Listeriosis, a serious infection usually caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, is an important public health problem. . The disease primarily affects older adults, pregnant women, newborns, and adults with weakened immune systems. However, rarely, persons without these risk factors can also be affected.

Food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes may not look or smell spoiled. Listeriosis can cause high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness and nausea. Pregnant women, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are particularly at risk. Infected pregnant women may experience only a mild, flu-like illness, however, infections during pregnancy can lead to premature delivery, infection of the newborn, or even stillbirth (Outbreak News, 2012).

Title: Agroterrorism Summit Stresses Vigilance
Date: April 6, 2012
Source: Bio Prep Watch

Abstract: Experts meeting at an agroterrorism summit held recently in Parlier, California, gave farmers and farm workers advice on how to prevent a potential terrorist act.

They suggested keeping a ledger available to record the license numbers of suspicious vehicles or other information about suspicious activity. Heightened situational awareness, they said, is the key to safety, according

“Your employees are your eyes and ears, and it’s okay to question somebody,” Ryan Jacobsen, the executive director of the Fresno County Farm Bureau, said, reports.

Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims told participants at the summit to take note if people are taking photographs, videotaping, using binoculars or sketching, especially at places such as storage areas.

“We’re not talking about people taking pictures of blossoms,” Sheriff Mims said, reports. “See if people are doing surveillance or asking probing questions about security. Trust your gut.”

Farmers were also told to harden likely targets of theft or terrorism and to identify and mark vulnerable assets. The establishment of controlled access points for delivery vehicles and visitors was recommended.

Tom Knowles, a retired agent with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, said that authorities needed to know of any large livestock or crop losses that are not related to weather (Bio Prep Watch, 2012).

Title: FBI Says Not To Discount Agroterrorism
Date: April 16, 2012
Source: Bio Prep Watch

Abstract: An expert on weapons of mass destruction for the Federal Bureau of Investigation recently said that, although the food sector is not a likely target for terrorists, gaining access to the food supply would be relatively simple.

John Frank, the WMD coordinator for the FBI mobile field office in Kansas, said that agroterrorism is a threat not usually considered when people think of conventional terrorism, according

“Agroterrorism is a very big topic because if you think about the (agricultural) industry it covers a huge span of things,” Frank said, reports. “It’s not just about animals; it’s not just about crops. It’s much bigger than that.”

Frank, who spoke at a town hall meeting in Healy, Kansas, is one of 56 WMD coordinators across the country. He is the FBI’s contact point in his district regarding any investigation of WMD incidents.

“Whether state or local agencies, even the private sector, we get involved with special events such as the Super Bowl or Mardi Gras,” Frank said, according to “Anything you can think of–there’s a good chance the FBI will have a presence there.”

Frank said that overseas terrorists are generally not thought of as preparing to engage in agroterrorism, but evidence suggests otherwise.

“It is accepted within certain terrorist organizations in their mindsets,” Frank said, reports. “In 2002, Operation Enduring Freedom recovered a lot of documents overseas that showed their interest in using toxins and biological agents not only against humans, but against animals and crops and food supplies. They have the interest and the desire to do it and they know what they’re talking about” (Bio Prep Watch, 2012).

Title: CFIA Warns Of Possible Botulism Contaminated Fish At North York Grocery
Date: April 17, 2012

Abstract: The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is warning the public not to consume certain vacuum packaged fish products sold only at a specific North York grocery due to the potential of Clostidium botulinum contamination.

According to a CFIA health hazard alert Monday, the products in question are North 44 brand Smoked Salmon McEwan’s Own and Kristapson's smoked salmon sold in various weights.

These products were sold only at McEwan Gourmet Grocery Store located at 38 Karl Fraser Road, North York, Ontario.

There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of these products.

Food borne botulism is a severe intoxication caused by eating the preformed toxin present in contaminated food.

Food borne botulism occurs when the bacterium Clostridium botulinum is allowed to grow and produce toxin in food that is later eaten without sufficient heating or cooking to inactivate the toxin. Botulinum toxin is one of the most potent neurotoxins known.

Growth of this anaerobic bacteria and the formation of the toxin tend to happen in products with low acidity and oxygen content and low salt and sugar content. Inadequately processed, home-canned foods like asparagus, green beans, beets, and corn have commonly been implicated. However, there have been outbreaks of botulism from more unusual sources such as chopped garlic in oil, chili peppers, improperly handled baked potatoes wrapped in aluminum foil and home-canned or fermented fish. Garden foods like tomatoes, which used to be considered too acidic for the growth of Clostridium botulinum, is now considered a potentially hazardous food in home canning. Though more common in home-canned foods, it happens only occasionally in commercially prepared foods.

Typically in a few hours to several days after you eat the contaminated food you will start to show the classic symptoms: blurred vision, dry mouth, and difficulty in swallowing. Gastrointestinal symptoms may or may not occur. If untreated, the paralysis always descends through the body starting at the shoulders and working its way down. The most serious complication of botulism is respiratory failure where it is fatal in up to 10% of people. It may take months before recovery is complete.

If the disease is caught early enough it can be treated with antitoxin. If paralysis and respiratory failure happen, the person may be on a ventilator for several weeks (Examiner, 2012)

Title: Oregon E. Coli Outbreak Now At 19, Four Children Hospitalized
Date: April 22, 2012

Abstract: The 
E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in Oregon, which has been linked to raw milk from a Clackamas County farm, is now at 19 victims according to Oregon health officials.

According to an Oregon Health Authority news release Friday, as of April 20, 2012, the Foundation Farm raw milk-associated Escherichia coli O157:H7 outbreak has sickened 19 persons. Of these 11 have culture-confirmed E. coli O157 infections; 15 of the 19 cases are in children <19 years of age. Four children have been hospitalized with kidney failure.

The only common food item that all cases reported consuming was raw milk produced by Foundation Farm; none of the other food items reported was consumed by all the cases; and the households reported buying their food from a variety of stores.

Health officials say pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) test results show a single molecular pattern for eight of the human cases (three others are pending). The same molecular type was identified in samples from the farm (10 animal manure; two cattle rectal swabs; one swab of the milking station) and from one from the leftover milk samples recovered from a case-household.

Symptoms of the diseases caused by E.coli O157:H7 include abdominal cramps and diarrhea that may in some cases progress to bloody diarrhea. The infection may lead to a life-threatening disease, such as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). HUS is characterized by acute renal failure, hemolytic anemia and thrombocytopenia. It is estimated that up to 10% of patients with E.coli infection may develop HUS, with a case-fatality rate ranging from 3% to 5% (Examiner, 2012)

Title: Mad Cow Disease Found In California Dairy Cow
Date: April 24, 2012
Source: LA Times

Abstract: Federal officials say a case of mad cow disease has been found in a dairy cow in the Central Valley.

The animal was found at a rendering facility, John Clifford, the USDA’s chief veterinarian, told reporters Tuesday in a briefing in Washington. Its meat did not enter the food chain and the carcass will be destroyed, Clifford said.

This is the fourth confirmed case of the brain-wasting disease in the U.S. cattle herd since the first case was discovered in December 2003 in an animal that came from Canada.

[Updated at 1 p.m.: The carcass “was never presented for slaughter for human consumption, so at no time presented a risk to the food supply or human health,” Clifford said in a statement.]

Mad cow disease, which humans can get by eating beef from infected cattle, has killed 171 people and been responsible for the deaths of more than 4 million cattle, slaughtered in attempts to eradicate the disease.

Officially known as variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the infection is caused by prion proteins that cause the brain to start breaking down (LA Times, 2012).

Title: Mad Cow Reemergence May Hamper California's Beef, Dairy Industries
Date: April 24, 2012
Source: LA Times

Abstract: The reemergence of mad cow disease, discovered in a California dairy cow, could have major implications for the state’s meat industry, even though officials have said that the human food supply is unaffected.

Bovine spongiform encephalopathy hasn’t been found in U.S. since 2006 and was discovered in only three instances before then. But the disease has dealt a crippling blow to the industry in the past, especially when foreign countries refused to import American beef when mad cow was first uncovered in 2003.

The U.S. Department of Agriculturetests about 40,000 cows a year in its effort to catch the disease.

In California, private and public ranching takes up about 38 million acres, according to the California Cattlemen’s Assn. There are about 620,000 beef cows on 11,800 California ranches. The state also hosts 1.84 million dairy cows, according to information compiled by the California Beef Council.

The sale of cattle and calves was a $1.82-billion industry in California 2008 and fifth among the state’s top 20 commodities. Beef cattle are raised in nearly every California county.

Nationally, California ranks behind Texas, Kansas and Nebraska in total cattle numbers.

Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, quickly issued a statement stressing that mad cow “is not transmitted through milk.” She also pointed out that “milk and beef remain safe to consume.”

But food-related scares, such as the recent uproar over pink slime and various fruit and vegetable recalls, can be a publicity nightmare.

Americans are exceedingly sensitive about what they eat, and the perception of risk often exceeds the real danger, experts have suggested  (LA Times, 2012)

Title: Clostridium Perfringens The Cause Of Grand Rapids Jail Food Outbreak
Date: April 26, 2012

Abstract: The cause of a food poisoning outbreak that struck down at least 250 inmates at a 
Grand Rapids, Michigan jail two weeks ago has been revealed according to a report Wednesday.

The outbreak that occurred the weekend of April 15 at the Kent County Jail has been determined to be caused by the bacterium, Clostridium perfringens.

The implicated food is rice and cheese from a taco-type meal served that weekend.

This organism most frequently associated with gas gangrene is also a major cause of food poisoning. However, this intoxication is a little different than those caused by Staphylococcus aureus and Bacillus cereus where the ingestion of preformed toxin causes the illness.

With C. perfingens intoxication is due to a toxin mediated infection where the ingested bacteria colonize in the intestinal tract and subsequently produce their toxin.

Almost all outbreaks are associated with inadequately heated or reheated meats, usually stews, meat pies, and gravies made from beef, turkey or chicken.

Outbreaks of Clostridium perfringens food poisoning are usually trace to catering firms, restaurants, cafeterias and schools with inadequate cooling and refrigeration facilities for large-scale service.

After a period of 8 to 22 hours, this intestinal disease is characterized by a sudden onset of colic followed by diarrhea and nausea. Vomiting and fever are not usually present.

It is generally a mild disease lasting about 24 hours or less. It is rarely fatal in otherwise healthy people.

However there is a more severe disease caused a different strain of C. perfringens (type C strains). This disease can cause necrotic enteritis which is frequently fatal. Also known as pig-bel syndrome, this strain can cause necrosis of the intestine and can go septic.

In order to prevent getting Clostridium perfringens food poisoning the following steps should be taken:

• Serve meat dishes hot or cool them by refrigerating till serving.
• Large cuts of meat must be thoroughly cooked. 
• For more rapid cooling of large dishes like stews, divide the stew into several smaller, shallower containers and refrigerate
(Examiner, 2012).

Title: Foot-And-Mouth Disease Vaccine Developed In US
Date: April 26, 2012
Source: BBC

Abstract: With the US livestock industry on alert after a diagnosis of "mad cow" disease in California, the BBC has gained rare access to a high-security compound where a vaccine for another deadly animal virus is close to completion.

Hijacked planes, dirty bombs and cyber attacks are all terror threats the US takes very seriously.

But there is another that many Americans may not have considered - foot-and-mouth disease.

The illness is one of the world's most contagious animal viruses. Although it does not infect humans, an outbreak in the US could cost the economy more than $50bn (£31bn), experts estimate.

To avert such a calamity, scientists working for the US government have spent several years developing a foot-and-mouth vaccine. It is expected to be licensed for use in the next few months.

"This is probably one of the most important innovations in the last 60 years in foot-and-mouth disease," says Dr Luis Rodriguez, research leader of the foreign animal disease research unit at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center, where the vaccine has been developed under top security.

"FMD is one of the largest burdens on animal health and production around the world. We pay attention to it when it gets into non-endemic countries like the UK - and if it ever came into the US it would be big news.

"But FMD is a burden every day on the lives of millions people around the world."

Island Research
Foot-and-mouth causes havoc because it spreads so quickly. It infects cloven-hoofed animals such as cows, pigs, sheep and goats. Infected livestock have to be quarantined and are usually killed. Trade involving meat, dairy and other animal products comes to a standstill.

Vaccines already exist but are of limited use because veterinarians cannot distinguish vaccinated animals from infected animals - both test positive for foot-and-mouth.

That makes it difficult for a country to assure jittery importing nations its animals are free from the disease.

The new vaccine will come with an antibody test that will enable regulators to tell the difference, the researchers say.

And it will also be safe to manufacture in the US because it does not use the whole live virus and cannot replicate, says Dr Larry Barrett, director of Plum Island, a US Department of Homeland Security installation.

"In the US, you can only work on FMD in an island environment, which is why we came here 60 years ago," he says. "They wouldn't allow us on the mainland."

A government-operated ferry is the only way to reach the facility, north of New York's Long Island and just off the coast of Connecticut. No food or drink is allowed off the island to reduce the risk the virus will escape onto the mainland.

The vaccine works by triggering an immune response. A part of the foot-and-mouth virus is placed in a harmless vector - in this case a defective human virus.

The vaccine is then injected into the animal, providing it with the relevant genetic information its immune system needs to fight the foot-and-mouth virus.

"The animal actually makes the vaccine inside its body by producing the FMD protein necessary to create an immune response," says Dr Rodriguez.

"It's a very good innovation - the most effective way to date and very promising technology. I think it's going to revolutionise the way we look at FMD vaccines around the world today."

British Effort
Research into new vaccines is also underway at the Institute for Animal Health (IAH) in the UK. In 2001 Britain was hit by a severe foot-and-mouth disease outbreak that devastated the farming and tourism industries.

More than 10 million sheep, cows and pigs were slaughtered in an attempt to contain the outbreak. Images of burning carcasses became the hallmark of the crisis.

"The British government has funded this research so that we will have the tools available to support a 'vaccinate to live' policy should we have another outbreak," says Dr Bryan Charleston, head of the livestock viral diseases program at the IAH.

That goal is still some years away, he says, but new approaches and scientific advances are giving cause for optimism.

The foot-and-mouth virus is a genome surrounded by a coat of proteins. The new vaccines use only the proteins - not the live genome part of the virus - which is why they are safe to produce, the scientists say.

Dr Charleston's British team is developing a vaccine that is produced in insect cells instead of a defective virus. Like the vaccine developed at Plum Island, it is extremely stable and can be deployed rapidly to stem an outbreak, he says.

"We have done the same sort of thing as scientists at Plum Island," he says.

"We just got there by a different route."

He hopes the vaccine will offer a longer lasting immunity to foot-and-mouth that will make it suitable for use in countries where the disease is endemic.

"In some cases current vaccines are only effective for three to four months which means livestock need to be vaccinated three or four times a year. The cost of gathering the animals alone is significant - it's just not practical," he says.

Only one major animal disease has been successfully eradicated so far - rinderpest - but scientists hope their work will one lead to the elimination of foot-and-mouth disease.

The last outbreak foot-and-mouth in the US occurred in 1929 and the biggest risk of the disease entering the country today comes mainly from infected animal imports.

There have been more than half a dozen high alerts already this year when samples from animals thought to be infected were flown by jet and helicopter to Plum Island for testing. All the cases turned out to be false alarms (BBC, 2012).

Title: Bomb Scare, Monkey Pox Quarantine At Two Midwest Airports
Date: April 27, 2012
Source: Fox 4 News

Abstract: Part of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport was evacuated Friday morning after a screener detected what he thought was an explosive in a piece of luggage.

Reuters reports that after interviewing the passenger and opening the luggage, security officials determined the device was not an explosive but actually a water filtration system in the passenger’s checked baggage.

“The questionable items in the bag were two PVC pipes capped at both ends filled with a granular material,” airport spokesman Patrick Hogan told Reuters. “There were also a number of wires in the bag that were not connected to the pipes.”

According to the Transportation Safety Administration, the public area of the terminal was cleared and approaching roads were closed temporarily during the incident to ensure safety.

Terminal 2 is the smaller of the airport’s two terminals, serving Southwest Airlines, AirTran, Sun Country and Icelandair. The larger Terminal 1 was not affected.

In Chicago, at Midway Airport, passengers suffered a different kind of scare.

A Delta flight was quarantined on the runway, after a concerned passenger reported a family member might have monkey pox from an earlier trip to Africa.

Medical staff reviewed the case, but passengers say they were given little information and grew upset, thinking the worst.

“You think am I going to get off this plane? Am I gonna make it back home? Am I gonna be in a suit just like the other people outside. We’re looking outside of our window and they’re suiting people up in masks and in gloves and you know you only see that stuff in the movies,” one passenger said.

“Quarantined… like tell us what could this be, is it airborne? Is it topical? Is it viral? What is it, what do you mean? Do you cover your mouth? I was not sitting next to someone, I was sitting in one seat, no one next to me. So do I feel safe? Do I not feel safe? I think my mind started playing games with me, I thought I was itching you know it is just one of those things where you’re just not sure.”

Everyone on the flight was able to leave after medical officials said the woman in question was only suffering from bug bites (Fox 4 News, 2012).

Title: Multistate Salmonella Tuna Outbreak Now At 200 Cases, Second Organism Identified
Date: April 27, 2012

Abstract: The number of cases in the 
salmonella outbreak linked to raw scraped ground tuna, often used for sushi, is now at 200 according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report Wednesday.

The outbreak, which has been seen in 21 states and the District of Columbia, has hospitalized 28 people to date.

While the vast majority of cases were due to the strain, Salmonella bareilly, the federal health agency reports that 5% of patients were infected with a different strain, Salmonellaserotype Nchanga.

According to the CDC:

A total of 200 persons infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Bareilly orSalmonella Nchanga have been reported from 21 states and the District of Columbia.

  • 190 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Bareilly have been reported from 21 states and the District of Columbia. The number of ill persons with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Bareilly identified in each state is as follows: Alabama (2), Arkansas (1), Connecticut (8), District of Columbia (2), Florida (1), Georgia (9), Illinois (15), Louisiana (3), Maryland (20), Massachusetts (24), Mississippi (2), Missouri (4), New Jersey (18), New York (33), North Carolina (3), Pennsylvania (7), Rhode Island (6), South Carolina (3), Texas (4), Virginia (9), Vermont (1), and Wisconsin (15).
  • 10 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Nchanga have been reported from 5 states. The number of ill persons with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Nchanga identified in each state is as follows: Georgia (2), New Jersey (1), New York (5), Virginia (1), and Wisconsin (1).

No deaths have been reported from this outbreak.

The outbreak has been linked to frozen raw yellowfin tuna product from Moon Marine USA Corporation. The tuna product was recalled two weeks ago (Examiner, 2012)

Title: Salmonella Paratyphi B Outbreak In North Carolina
Date: April 28, 2012

Abstract: Health officials in western North Carolina are investigating an outbreak of Salmonella that has sickened at least 29 people as of Friday.

According to a Buncombe County Department of Health (BCDOH) news release Friday, Communicable Disease Nurses and Environmental Health Specialists are conducting interviews with people who currently have or have had the infection, reviewing laboratory reports and inspecting food sources that may be linked to the outbreak.

The outbreak strain has been identified as Salmonella Paratyphi B. The source of the outbreak is still unknown.

Communicable disease experts from the NC Division of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as food specialists from the NC Department of Agriculture are assisting with the investigations.

According to the release, all cases appear to have been associated with residence or travel to Buncombe County since February 28, 2012.

According to a 7 On Your Side news report today, state health officials say the outbreak is only going to get worse.

"We very likely have not seen the peak of this outbreak yet," says Gibbie Harris, Buncombe County Health Director.

Harris also said there have also been cases confirmed in other parts of North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and New York.

Salmonella Paratyphi B can be spread from person to person or by eating food or water contaminated with the feces of a person ill with Salmonella Paratyphi B infection or a person who carries this infection in their body.

Salmonella is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

In rare circumstances, infection with salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.

BCDOH health officials say taking the following steps can help prevent infection with this bacterium:

· Good hand washing: wash hands after using the toilet or changing a diaper; or before you fix, serve or eat food.

· Cook all foods fully and as directed to kill germs.

· Keep uncooked meats, poultry and eggs away from fruits and vegetables, cooked foods and ready-to-eat foods.

· Wash counters, cutting boards and utensils with soap and water after they have been incontact with raw meat, poultry or eggs.

· Rinse all fruits and vegetables with running water before you eat them.

A Hotline will be operational after 1:00 p.m. today to offer people a way to call for accurate information about this outbreak. The Hotline  828.250.5300 will have an automated message and a phone number for people with symptoms to talk with a Communicable Disease Nurse. Information is also available on the website.

Buncombe County is located in western North Carolina. Asheville is the county seat (Examiner, 2012)

Title: Pueblo Caterer Cited, Shut Down After Food Poisoning Outbreak
Date: May 2, 2012

Abstract: After a food poisoning outbreak left 35 people sick during a luncheon in late April, Pueblo, Colorado health officials performed an inspection on the caterer, which resulted in six critical violations and a temporary shutdown of the food company.

The Pueblo City-County Health Department has temporarily closed All Seasons Catering of 2800 N Elizabeth St in Pueblo Tuesday following a Clostridium perfringens outbreak at the Pueblo Community Health Center's annual meeting and luncheon, which sickened 35 individuals.

According to a report Tuesday, based on interviews with everyone who became ill, the department found a statistical association in several foods that could have been the culprit: a beef-and-gravy dish, butter, tomatoes and lettuce served at the luncheon.

After interviewing the victims of the outbreak, health officials inspected All Seasons Catering and found 6 critical violations. The violations include observing an employee eating from pasta bowl while prepping to observing an employee "trying" to check temperature of pasta with bare hands, not using a thermometer to improper cooling time/temperature for the food.

According to the Pueblo City-County Health Department, All Seasons Catering was given a Public Health Order and a Notice of Temporary Suspension of City Food Dealer Permit and Order of Closure due to food borne illness outbreak directly associated with food served, this order is to protect the public health from cause of epidemic and communicable disease.

All Seasons Catering cannot reopen until they satisfy the following requirements:

· Creation of written procedures to include cooling, reheating, final cook temperatures, hand-washing and sick employee policies.

· Proof of proper equipment and food cooling procedures.

· Must maintain temperature logs of all foods and refrigeration equipment.

· Employees must participate in a food-safety class and pass a written exam as well as demonstrate knowledge regarding proper food safety practices/procedures.

· Submission of a written request for reinspection.

Clostridium perfringens is an organism most frequently associated with gas gangrene is also a major cause of food poisoning. However, this intoxication is a little different from those caused by Staphylococcus aureus and Bacillus cereus where the ingestion of preformed toxin causes the illness.

With C. perfingens intoxication is due to a toxin mediated infection where the ingested bacteria colonize in the intestinal tract and subsequently produce their toxin.

Almost all outbreaks are associated with inadequately heated or reheated meats, usually stews, meat pies, and gravies made from beef, turkey or chicken.

Outbreaks of Clostridium perfringens food poisoning are usually trace to catering firms, restaurants, cafeterias and schools with inadequate cooling and refrigeration facilities for large-scale service.

After a period of 8 to 22 hours, this intestinal disease is characterized by a sudden onset of colic followed by diarrhea and nausea. Vomiting and fever are not usually present.

It is generally a mild disease lasting about 24 hours or less. It is rarely fatal in otherwise healthy people.

However there is a more severe disease caused a different strain of C. perfringens (type C strains). This disease can cause necrotic enteritis which is frequently fatal. Also known as pig-bel syndrome, this strain can cause necrosis of the intestine and can go septic.

In order to prevent getting Clostridium perfringens food poisoning the following steps should be taken:

• Serve meat dishes hot or cool them by refrigerating till serving.
• Large cuts of meat must be thoroughly cooked. 
• For more rapid cooling of large dishes like stews, divide the stew into several smaller, shallower containers and refrigerate
(Examiner, 2012)

Title: Experts Worry About Obama’s Food Security Approaches
Date: May 14, 2012
Source: BioPrepWatch

Abstract: President Barack Obama recently invited a number of African leaders to join the G8 summit for a discussion on food security, despite claims that he has failed to adequately address food security issues at home.

The Pew Health Organization recently claimed that President Obama has failed to protect the United States against agroterrorism or to adequately monitor domestic food security, according to

Several months after the Obama Administration claimed it enacted sweeping legislation to protect the nation’s food supply, experts at a federal symposium claimed that half of what Americans currently eat comes from countries not covered by FDA measures aimed at guarding the food supply.

According to experts participating in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s International Symposium on Agroterrorism, the United States is vulnerable to bioterrorism via tainted food.

“Because it’s nearly impossible to know where 50% of our food comes from, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to protect consumers from tainted supplies as well as intentional bioterrorism attacks,”  former intelligence and police officer Sid Franes said, reports.

The annual symposium, held this year in Kansas City, was held to help foster information-sharing and collaboration between government agencies, the private sector and academia. The complex nature of the relationships, however, limits the nation’s ability to respond effectively to an attack, according to experts (BioPrepWatch, 2012)

Title: Bad Salad Blamed For Ukraine Football Team Food Poisoning
Date: June 9, 2012

Abstract: Just days before Ukraine’s inaugural match against Sweden in the 
Euro 2012 football championship, at least ten players from the squad were sickened with a bout of food poisoning in Germany.

Ukrainian team doctors are now blaming the outbreak on a bad salad from a German hotel.

According to a AP report, Ukraine team doctor Leonid Mironov said Thursday that he thinks the players suffered from “the bad effects of eating a salad”.

The causative agent of the food poisoning outbreak was never identified.

Ukrainian coach, Oleg Blokhin originally announced the illnesses Wednesday after Turkey defeated Ukraine. Later on a report from Ukraine TV, Blokhin even suggested the outbreak was the result of sabotage.

As far as the team is concerned, the situation is now “case closed” as team spokesperson Oleksandr Glyvynskiy told The Associated Press there will be no further investigation into the cause of the food poisoning.

The Ukraine is co-hosting the 2012 European Football Championship with Poland. The tournament will host 16 European clubs competing for the coveted championship. It will continue until its finale on July 1 (Examiner, 2012).

Title: NAS Report On Agro-Defense Facility Due Out Soon
Date: June 15, 2012

Abstract: The National Academies of Science recently announced that it will soon release a congressionally mandated analysis on the risks posed by the planned National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility.

Millions of dollars in stalled congressional funding are believed to be linked to the results of the report, which is due out on Friday, according to

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security planned for the project to be constructed in Manhattan, Kansas, near the site of Kansas State University. Currently, an armed guard and steel perimeter fence protect idle equipment on the stalled construction site, according to Reuters.

The analysis is an updated version of the department’s original risk assessment, which the NAS considered predicated on misguided assumptions and methodologies. The new report will examine whether or not DHS has taken into account the risks identified in the original, reports.

A second, separate NAS review of the project, set to be released at a later date, will provide a detailed analysis of whether or not the NBAF proposal is even necessary. DHS requested the second review to study entirely different options, including a scaled back version of the existing plans, a collaborative effort with private firms or a renovation of the existing Plum Island Animal Disease Lab in New York State (BioPrepWatch, 2012).

Title: Salmonella Montevideo Outbreak Linked To live Poultry From Missouri Hatchery
Date: June 26, 2012

Abstract: Salmonella Montevideo, one of the many strains of salmonella has been linked to outbreaks in everything from
 salami to dietary supplements in recent years.

On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announcedat least 66 people have fallen ill in 20 states in a Salmonella Montevideo outbreak linked to live poultry from a Missouri hatchery.

An investigation into the outbreak has linked this outbreak of human Salmonella infections to contact with chicks, ducklings, and other live baby poultry from Estes Hatchery in Springfield, Missouri.

The multistate outbreak has been reported from 20 states to date to include:

Alaska (1), California (2), Colorado (1), Georgia (1), Illinois (1), Indiana (8), Iowa (2), Kansas (10), Kentucky (1), Massachusetts (1), Missouri (22), Nebraska (5), Nevada (1), New York (1), North Carolina (1), Ohio (1), Oklahoma (4), South Dakota (1), Vermont (1), and Wyoming (1).

The CDC reports 16 of the individuals infected required hospitalization. One death was reported in Missouri, but Salmonella infection was not considered a contributing factor in this person’s death.

A third of those taken ill were children age 10 or younger.

This is the second hatchery implicated in a multistate salmonella outbreak. Recently, the CDC reported on a different Salmonella outbreak linked to live poultry from Mt. Healthy Hatchery in Ohio. As of June 7, 123 people have been sickened in that outbreak (Examiner, 2012)

Title: Home-Canned Food Implicated In Oregon Botulism Outbreak
Date: July 3, 2012

Abstract: Three Central 
Oregon residents have been hospitalized for food borne botulism after consuming home-canned foods at a private barbeque, according to health officials.

According to a Deschutes County Health Services news release Monday, this outbreak was an isolated incident and people who attended the barbeque have been notified. They assure residents that there is no risk to the public since botulism is NOT spread person-to-person.

Oregon health officials also point out that this is a good reminder of the dangers of improper home canning.

Each year in the United States there are about 150 cases of botulism with about 25 of them specifically caused by contaminated foodstuffs. Food borne botulism is a severe intoxication caused by eating the preformed toxin present in contaminated food.

Food borne botulism occurs when the bacterium Clostridium botulinum is allowed to grow and produce toxin in food that is later eaten without sufficient heating or cooking to inactivate the toxin. Botulinum toxin is one of the most potent neurotoxins known.

Growth of this anaerobic bacteria and the formation of the toxin tend to happen in products with low acidity and oxygen content and low salt and sugar content. Inadequately processed, home-canned foods like asparagus, green beans, beets, and corn have commonly been implicated.

However, there have been outbreaks of botulism from more unusual sources such as chopped garlic in oil, chili peppers, improperly handled baked potatoes wrapped in aluminum foil and home-canned or fermented fish. Garden foods like tomatoes, which used to be considered too acidic for the growth of Clostridium botulinum, is now considered a potentially hazardous food in home canning.

Though more common in home-canned foods, it does happen occasionally in commercially prepared foods.

Typically in a few hours to several days after you eat the contaminated food you will start to show the classic symptoms; blurred vision, dry mouth, and difficulty in swallowing. Gastrointestinal symptoms may or may not occur. If untreated, the paralysis always descends through the body starting at the shoulders and working its way down.

The most serious complication of botulism is respiratory failure where it is fatal in up to 10% of people. It may take months before recovery is complete.

If the disease is caught early enough it can be treated with antitoxin. If paralysis and respiratory failure happen, the person may be on a ventilator for several weeks (Examiner, 2012)

Title: Homeland Security Develops Vaccine For Foot-And-Mouth
Date: July 6, 2012

Abstract: The Department of Homeland Security announced this week that it has developed the first vaccine for foot-and-mouth disease that can be licensed and manufactured in the United States.

The vaccine could be used against the infectious animal disease in case of an outbreak or attack. The vaccine is effective against just one strain of the virus, but vaccines against other strains are being developed, the Los Angeles Times reports.

“This is the biggest news in (foot-and-mouth disease) research in the last 50 years,” Lawrence Barrett, the director of the Plum Island Animal Disease Center on Long Island, N.Y., said, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Symptoms of foot-and-mouth disease include blisters on the feet and mouth, drooling, fever, loss of appetite and lameness. Animal herds that have become infected with the disease are typically destroyed.

The virus can be spread by bodily secretions, breath, the ground and can be transferred long distances by wind. While the United States has been free of the disease since 1929, Britain had an outbreak of foot-and-mouth in 2001 requiring the culling of 10 million cows. An outbreak in the United States could cost more than $50 billion.

Vaccines are available against the virus but contain a live virus and thus cannot be legally manufactured in the United States. The new vaccine contains a coat of proteins that produces an immune response but does not contain genetic material of the disease. The DHS worked with Antelope Valley Biologics and GenVec Inc. to manufacture and license the vaccine (BioPrepWatch, 2012).

Title: Bay Cuisine Recalls Meat Products After Being Linked To Listeria Outbreak
Date: July 19, 2012
Outbreak News

Abstract: The New Zealand meat company, 
Bay Cuisine, has recalled certain salami, pepperoni and ham products Wednesday after tests showed a possible link to a listeria outbreak that sickened four and left two patients dead at a New Zealand hospital.

Four patients with listeria presented at the Hastings hospital between May and June. Two of the elderly patients from  Hawke’s Bay died after contracting the Listeria.

According to Hwke’s Bay Today:

Four patients with symptoms of listeria went to hospital on May 9 and 18, and June 21 and 29. The two women, one aged in her 60s and one her 80s were both “immune-compromised” and died in June and July respectively, within a week to 10 days of first arriving, said Hawke’s Bay District Health Board Director of Population Health Dr Caroline McElnay.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is overseeing the recall. Andrew Coleman, Ministry for Primary Industries

Deputy Director General Compliance and Response said, ”MPI wants to ensure any unsafe food is not available for sale and that people do not eat any of the recalled products they may have bought already.”

MPI advises anyone who has any of the recalled products not to eat them and to return them to where they bought them, or dispose of them via the normal household rubbish.

Listeriosis, a serious infection usually caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, is an important public health problem. . The disease primarily affects older adults, pregnant women, newborns, and adults with weakened immune systems. However, rarely, persons without these risk factors can also be affected.

Food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes may not look or smell spoiled. Listeriosis can cause high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness and nausea. Pregnant women, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are particularly at risk. Infected pregnant women may experience only a mild, flu-like illness, however, infections during pregnancy can lead to premature delivery, infection of the newborn, or even stillbirth (Outbreak News, 2012).

Title: Drakes Bay Oysters Linked To Vibrio Infections In California
Date: August 11, 2012

California health officials issued a warning to the public concerning the bacterial risks associated with eating shucked and in-shell raw oysters from Drakes Bay Oyster Company in Marin County.

According to a California Department of Public Health (CDPH) advisory Friday, three Californians have been sickened with the gastrointestinal bug, Vibrio parahaemolyticuslinked to Drakes Bay oysters.

The Inverness, California company initiated a voluntary recall of the following affected products:

1. The shucked oysters are packaged under the Drakes Bay Oyster Farm label and sold in 9 ounce, 1-pint, 1-quart and half-gallon jars or tubs. The affected shucked products are labeled with lot numbers 363 through 421.

2. The in-shell raw oysters are sold individually or in bags ranging in size from 1 dozen to 10 dozen. In-shell raw oyster tags are marked with harvest dates ranging from July 17, 2012, through August 8, 2012.

Health officials advise consumers who purchased the affected oyster products to throw them away immediately.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention saysVibrio parahaemolyticus is a bacterium in the same family as those that cause cholera. It lives in brackish saltwater and causes gastrointestinal illness in humans. V. parahaemolyticus naturally inhabits coastal waters in the United States and Canada and is present in higher concentrations during summer.

V. parahaemolyticus causes watery diarrhea often with abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, fever and chills. Usually these symptoms occur within 24 hours of ingestion. Illness is usually self-limited and lasts 3 days. Severe disease is rare and occurs more commonly in persons with weakened immune systems.

CDPH recommends consumers experiencing any ill effects after consuming these products should consult their health care provider. Consumers that observe the product being offered for sale are encouraged to report the activity to the CDPH toll-free complaint line at (800) 495-3232 (Examiner, 2012).

Title: Canadian Mushrooms Recalled Due To Listeria Concerns
Date: August 15, 2012

Abstract: Leamington, Ontario grower, Highline Mushrooms is voluntarily recalling certain Sliced White Mushrooms products because they may be contaminated with 

According to a Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) health hazard alert Monday, both Highline Mushrooms and the CFIA are warning the public not to consume the following products:

Highline Mushrooms and Compliments sliced white mushrooms, sold in 227 gram containers bearing a lot code: L4100805 and a best before date of 12AU15.

The affected products were distributed in Ontario and possibly other provinces.

There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of these products.

Listeriosis, a serious infection usually caused by eating food contaminated with the bacteriumListeria monocytogenes, is an important public health problem. . The disease primarily affects older adults, pregnantwomen, newborns, and adults with weakened immune systems. However, rarely, persons without these risk factors can also be affected.

Food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes may not look or smell spoiled. Listeriosis can cause high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness and nausea. Pregnant women, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are particularly at risk. Infected pregnant women may experience only a mild, flu-like illness, however, infections during pregnancy can lead to premature delivery, infection of the newborn, or even stillbirth.

For more information, consumers and industry can call the CFIA at 1-800-442-2342 (Examiner, 2012).

Title: Hillsborough County Health Officials Issue Vibrio Vulnificus Warning
Date: August 16, 2012
Global Dispatch

Abstract: The death of two Hillsborough County, Florida residents has prompted health officials to issue a warning about a potentially deadly bacterial infection contracted from eating raw or undercooked oysters or swimming in local waters with open wounds.

According to a BayNews9 report Tuesday, in addition to the two fatalities, the Hillsborough County Health Department (HCHD) said an additional five other cases of Vibrio vulnificus have been reported in the county.

Throughout the Tampa Bay area and the state of Florida, raw oyster bars are everywhere and the places are packed with patrons. However for a certain group of people, the bacterium that lurks in the oyster can cause a rapid and extremely serious illness.

As the summer comes and the waters start getting warmer, the waters where oysters, clams, crabs and finfish are harvested appear to become more concentrated with Vibrio vulnificus.

Vibrio vulnificus is a bacterium that is found in all coastal waters of the United States. It has also been found in brackish waters of some interior states. It may be normal flora in salt water and acquiring this organism from shellfish or water exposure does not imply that the water is contaminated by sewage. Most infections that happen are attributed to consuming raw oysters harvested in the Gulf of Mexico during the summer. Because the oysters are shipped all over the country, infections are not limited to the Gulf States.

Oysters are sedentary bivalve mollusks that feed by filtering plankton (small plants and animals) from estuarine water. Because Vibrio vulnificus occurs naturally in the same waters that oysters feed, the bacteria is ingested and becomes assimilated and concentrated in the animal’s tissues.

Healthy, non at-risk individuals are not at risk for serious infection. Non at-risk patients with gastroenteritis have a relatively mild illness consisting of vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramps and rarely require hospitalization.

However there are certain medical conditions that can put you at risk for very rapid, serious and possibly deadly disease. Individuals with diabetes, liver disease like cirrhosis, leukemia, AIDS or those who take immunosuppressive drugs or steroids are particularly susceptible to primary septicemia, a serious “blood poisoning”. In these individuals the bacteria gets into the bloodstream resulting in septic shock and death in more than 50% of those infected.

Wound infections are another problem with Vibrio vulnificus. These infections result either from contaminating an open wound with sea water harboring the organism, or by lacerating part of the body on coral, fish, etc., followed by contamination with the organism.

This infection can be diagnosed by isolating the organism in stool, wound or blood cultures. It can be treated with a antibiotic regimen and supportive care.

What can you do to prevent this infection? Patients with chronic liver disease or immunocompromising conditions are particularly vulnerable to infection and are advised to avoid raw or undercooked seafood. Persons with open wounds should avoid contact with warm seawater.

Here is a list of preventive measures recommended in the journal American Family Physician:

• Avoid contact with raw seafood juices; use separate cutting boards and knives for seafood and nonseafood
• Avoid eating raw oysters or seafood, especially if an immunocompromising condition or chronic liver disease is present; the risk is highest with seafood harvested in the summer
• Cook shellfish thoroughly:
• In the shell: boil until the shells open, then boil for another five minutes; or steam until the shells open, then steam for another nine minutes (do not eat shellfish that do not open during cooking)
• Shucked oysters: boil for at least three minutes, or fry for at least 10 minutes at 375°F (191°C)
• Promptly refrigerate leftover seafood
• Wear gloves when handling raw oysters or shellfish
Persons with open wounds:
• Avoid contact between open wounds and seawater, especially if water temperature is more than 68°F (20°C), or raw seafood
• Wash any wound that is exposed to seawater with soap and clean water
• Immediately seek medical care for any wound that appears infected
(Global Dispatch, 2012)

Title: Washington Reports Thirty Vibrio Illnesses This Summer
Date: August 17, 2012

Abstract: Three commercial shellfish growing areas in
Washington State have been closed for the rest of the summer due to a rash of bacterial infections according to health officials.

According to a Washington State Department of Health (WSDH) news release Thursday, the three affected areas are Totten Inlet near Olympia, North Bay and Dabob Bay in north Hood Canal. Health officials say that 30 people have been sickened by the gastrointestinal bacterium, Vibrio parahaemolyticus this summer. The bacterium is increased in the warm summer waters.

Health authorities say the growing areas will be reopened in October when waters cool down.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Vibrio parahaemolyticus is a bacterium in the same family as those that cause cholera. It lives in brackish saltwater and causes gastrointestinal illness in humans. V. parahaemolyticus naturally inhabits coastal waters in the United States and Canada and is present in higher concentrations during summer.
People get vibriosis from eating raw or undercooked oysters that have Vibrio parahaemolyticus bacteria in them.

V. parahaemolyticus causes watery diarrhea often with abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, fever and chills. Usually these symptoms occur within 24 hours of ingestion. Illness is usually self-limited and lasts 3 days. Severe disease is rare and occurs more commonly in persons with weakened immune systems.

The WSDH advise about the proper cooking of shellfish. Cooking shellfish until the shells just open is not enough to kill Vibrio bacteria. Shellfish should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees F for at least 15 seconds. Don’t rinse cooked oysters in seawater, which can re-contaminate them.

In addition, consumers should put shellfish on ice or refrigerate immediately after you buy or harvest them this summer. Make sure you’re buying from a reputable source that handles shellfish correctly with good cooling practices (refrigeration or ice) (Examiner, 2012)

Title: Indiana Melons Linked To Salmonella Outbreak
Date: August 17, 2012
USA Today

Abstract: Health officials in Indiana and Kentucky say they are investigating farms, distributors and retailers after an outbreak of salmonella that has killed two and sickened at least 141 people nationwide was linked to cantaloupe grown in southwestern Indiana. 

Officials Friday advised all Indiana residents to discard cantaloupes purchased since July 7.

The Kentucky Department of Public Health warned people not to eat the cantaloupes. Tests found the fruit carried the same strain of salmonella that has killed two and sickened more than 50 in Kentucky.

Salmonella infections result in diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. Most people recover without treatment, but severe infections can occur in infants, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says 31 have been hospitalized in this outbreak that has hit 20 states (USA Today, 2012)

Title: E.Coli-Tainted Pickled Cabbage Linked To The Deaths Of At Least Seven In Japan
Date: August 19, 2012

Abstract: In what Japanese health officials are calling “the deadliest mass food poisoning in a decade”, at least seven people have died and more than 100 have been sickened after eating a popular Japanese side dish.

According to a Japan Today report Sunday, the implicated food in this E. coli outbreak is lightly pickled Chinese cabbage produced by Sapporo-based company, Iwai Shokuhin on the northern island of Hokkaido.

Health authorities report six of the seven fatalities were in elderly women who consumed the cabbage at a Sapporo nursing home, while the other death was a Sapporo child. A total of 103 have were infected by the bacterial pathogen according to the report.

Japanese health official, Seiichi Miyahara says, "It is not easy to determine how the bacteria were mixed with the pickles. We don't know yet whether there was any major problem in sanitary control at the company."

Prior to this E.coli outbreak, the worst food poisoning event was in 2002, when nine people died from E. coli bacteria poisoning after eating a marinated chicken and vegetable dish at a hospital and its annex, a nursing home for the aged, in the provincial city of Utsunomiya, north of Tokyo.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says Escherichia coli are a bacterium that is commonly found in the gut of humans and warm-blooded animals. Most strains of E. coli are harmless. Some strains however, such as enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC), can cause severe foodborne disease. It is transmitted to humans primarily through consumption of contaminated foods, such as raw or undercooked ground meat products and raw milk.

Symptoms of the diseases caused by EHEC include abdominal cramps and diarrhea that may in some cases progress to bloody diarrhea. The infection may lead to a life-threatening disease, such as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). HUS is characterized by acute renal failure, hemolytic anemia and thrombocytopenia. It is estimated that up to 10% of patients with EHEC infection may develop HUS, with a case-fatality rate ranging from 3% to 5% (Examiner, 2012)

Title: California Supplier Recalls Lettuce Over E. Coli Fears
Date: August 20, 2012
Fox News

Abstract: A Northern California produce supplier said Sunday it is voluntarily recalling romaine lettuce that was shipped to 19 states, Puerto Rico and Canada over fears about possible E. coli contamination.

Salinas-based Tanimura & Antle said the recall is limited to a single lot of its Field Fresh Wrapped Single Head Romaine that was available at retail stores starting Aug. 2. The lettuce is packed in a plastic bag with the UPC number 0-27918-20314-9, and it may have a "best by" date of Aug. 19.

The company said some 2,095 cases were potentially affected. Of those, 1,969 cases were shipped to Puerto Rico and the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

The product was packed with either 12 or 18 heads per case.

The recall was being conducted in consultation with Food and Drug Administration, and was based on the testing of a random sample by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. There have been no reported illnesses associated with consumption of this product (Fox News, 2012).