Thursday, August 25, 2005

Biowarfare : Another “Sverdlosk Incident” in Russia ?

I’ve been looking at two recent (and ongoing) outbreaks of Tularemia in Russia: (Source: ProMed : Archives # 20050824.2503; # 20050822.2467; # 20050718.2066 )

1. 96 people –66 from Dzerzhinsk region; 30 from Nizhniy Novogorod.

2. 56 people – all from the Ryazan area , which borders on Nizhniy Novogorod and Vladimir.

What makes it notable is that Tularemia is a fairly rare disease: the Ryazan area had only 4 known cases in 2004.

(No historic stats were furnished on the Nizhniy Novgoros area or Dzerzhinsk , but the number of cases seems “out of line”.)

The other factor that makes these two outbreaks notable is the presence of Biowarfare facilities in the region – especially in the Nizhniy Novogorod area. (Source: Global Security)

Chapayvevsk – in Nizhniy Novogorod , is decribed as an “Inactive bioweapons destruction facility”.

Gorokhovets – in Vladimir Oblast , is a bioweapons storage facility.

Dzerhinsk – in Nizhniy Novogorod is a facility used for the production of chemical weapons – notably Lewisite.

Ryazan – is , among other things, the home of a patrooper training facility,and was the scene of recent military manuevers.

Tentative Conclusions:

1. Russia is still involved in bioweapons research-including the use of Tularemia (with which they have experimented for 3 generations).
(Ken Alibek would probably agree.)

2. Some sort of accidental release of weaponized Tularemia may have occurred.

3. The possibility of theft/sabotage/terrorism should be considered.


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