Sunday, September 12, 2010

Terrorists Suspected of Spreading Anthrax in Bangladesh

Authorities in Bangladesh and neighboring India (map) fear that anthrax is being deliberately spread in Bangladesh. It is widespread and spreading fast. Very fast. "The Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) confirmed on Thursday [Sept. 9, 2010] that 447 people in eight districts had been infected with anthrax in the last three weeks. IEDCR virologist A.S.M. Alamgir said treatment facilities had been made available in all affected areas and claimed more than half the infected people had already been cured." More at The Hindu... As of Sept. 10, the total has risen to 479 people who are know to be infected. The outbreak began on August 18 in the Sirajganj district of central Bangladesh (map) contracted anthrax by consuming beef from infected cattle. Blitz Magazine (online) reports that "Eight districts have confirmed human and cattle anthrax infections and meat consumption ahead of the Islamic festival of Eid. Health officials in Bangladesh have described the Anthrax outbreak as biggest in country's history. The disease was first detected last month in northwestern Sirajganj district, where 38 villagers reportedly became infected after consuming beef from sickened cows, the news agency reported. It then spread to neighboring districts... But Is This Terrorism? Blitz: "Counter-terrorism experts fear that, Anthrax germs might have been intentionally put on animals in certain areas in Bangladesh by one or few of the separatist and militancy groups to create a massive headache for the current government in Bangladesh. It is also suspected that the spread of Anthrax might have connection with trial of war criminals in the country, which has already put Islamist group like Jamaat-E-Islami into visible offensives from the government. A number of top ranking Jamaat leaders are already behind the bar and books of spiritual guide of this Islamist group, Moulana Abul Ala Moududi have already been banned in Bangladesh." This is not the first time that Bangladesh has had an outbreak of anthrax. In April, 2010 there was a small group of 11 people who became infected. The suspected cause in that case was a diseased cow. According to The Daily Star (Dhaka, Bangladesh), "All the patients were attacked with the disease at Gala village in Ghatail upazila. Villagers said, Sujat Ali slaughtered one his sick cows and processed the meat with the help of his family members and several neighbours on April 6 last and distributed the meat among his relatives and others." The huge scale of the current outbreak, with nearly 500 people infected, is suspicious and provides reason to suspect terrorism. Then again, it may simply be that a number of infected cows were slaughtered and sold as meat. reports that the cause "was traced to anthrax-affected cows that were sold for meat to nearby villagers. All of the reported infections so far have been cutaneous [on the skin] and no deaths have been reported." A big part of the problem is the "jurisdictional mess" and "inspector shortage" in Bangladesh. In another article, The Daily Star reported that "the government directed livestock department officials to remain on highest alert to prevent spread of anthrax," but it's not working as it should becasue "the efforts seem to be dogged down by a lack of proper coordination among different relevant agencies, and an acute shortage of veterinary inspectors." RELATED: Bangladesh anthrax spreads, public panics Anthrax free meat sale strengthened in Magura‎ The Daily Star The History of Bio-Terrorism: Anthrax (video) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention START Social History of Anthrax Anthrax infections in Bangladesh top 479