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Eminent Domain Stuff

New London Update (2/24/06)
Coverage of the Rally at New London's City Hall (w/ pics)

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


Potential Bioterrorism, The Russian Mob, And/Or...

...bad reporting.

While it is entirely possible that a virus was actually used in this relatively bizarre incident, the news story gets their facts completely mixed up. They start out saying:

Money that has been contaminated with a virus...

According to law enforcement sources, after counting the seized cash, troopers began feeling ill and one trooper was even hospitalized with flu-like symptoms.
They then go on to state:

Sources tell CBS 3 that tests on the cash counter revealed the presence of a toxin derived from the bacteria staphylococcus.
For anyone who's interested, neither the bacterium staphylococcus, nor its toxin, could possibly considered a "virus."

This is important for a number of reasons. Both bacteria and viruses can be used as transmissible bioterror weapons. In other words, (some) bacterial and viral infections can be passed from person to person. Toxins, on the other hand, can certainly cause damage but are limited by the amount actually present (since a toxin is not capable of replicating). So, even the worst-case scenario involving a toxin is generally better than the worst-case scenario for the release of viruses or bacteria. The relative 'badness' would, however, depend on just how much and what type toxin, bacteria or virus are present, of course.

Adding to the general confusion of this article is the fact that I cannot think of a Staphylococcal toxin that would cause a 'flu-like syndrome' through skin contact alone. Generally, Staph causes problems in a number of ways. They can produce toxins in foods that are then ingested (food poisoning). These bugs can also release toxins and superantigens that cause scalded skin syndrome and toxic shock syndrome, respectively (more info here, scroll down). While none of these are pleasant and can certainly cause severe disease and death, I find it difficult to believe that we're dealing with anything like that here.

I guess we'll have to wait to see if more info becomes available.


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