It's not about anthrax, but this piece
October 14, 2001 3:28 PM   Subscribe

It's not about anthrax, but this piece (by Hot Zone author Richard Preston) from the New Yorker a couple of years ago discusses smallpox, the reasons why we keep samples around instead of getting rid of it, how effective it would be if used as a biological weapon, how prepared we are, etc. etc. Also contains an interesting bit mentioning other threats of anthrax (and this was '99).
posted by sherman (6 comments total)
Oderint dum metuant

This post reminded me of Cicero who quoted this line by Attius in his De officiis. It remains - indeed becomes - chillingly true. Translation:

Let them hate me, as long as they fear me too...
posted by MiguelCardoso at 3:42 PM on October 14, 2001

Anyone know the status of smallpox vaccine in the US are we up to the 100 million doses required? The more I read MeFi the more I want to move to Montana.
posted by stbalbach at 4:41 PM on October 14, 2001

Isn't it frightening to know, terrorists apart, that a lot of the supposedly erradicated diseases, like TB, smallpox, polio and cholera are back again? And AIDS, pace Andrew Sullivan, is not receding, either...
posted by MiguelCardoso at 4:58 PM on October 14, 2001

I had forgotten how graphic this guy's description of disease is.

And for the record TB was never ever "eradicated," we just developed antibiotics that could cure it. There are still parts of the world where it is common. And of course now there are drug resistant varieties.
posted by ilsa at 9:13 PM on October 14, 2001

TB and cholera are still widespread. Anyone who has ever experienced the joy of taking the live cholera vaccine to travel to certain parts of the world can testify to this.
posted by rodii at 9:41 PM on October 14, 2001

TB came back in the West largely as a result of the increase in AIDS.

Polio never really went away, but while it has dramatically declined in the West, many parts of the Third World were never protected. The WHO has a goal of a polio-free world by 2005, and they consider themselves to now be tackling the last, and hardest, 1%. The Western Hemisphere has been polio-free since 1994 (excepting for imported cases).

Cholera is not so much an immunization problem as it is a sanitation problem. Chicago "cured" cholera over a century ago by reversing the flow of the Chicago River -- and its sewage -- into Lake Michigan, where we get our water. (One epidemic killed 90,000 people in just a few days, putting current events in perspective.)
posted by dhartung at 11:24 PM on October 14, 2001

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