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Thailand: Specialists on full alert following outbreak of bacterial which could be use as weapon
The Nation (Thai) ^ | March 21, 2006 | Nation Staff

Posted on 03/20/2006 7:48:19 PM PST by JimSEA

A serious disease outbreak in the northern province of Nan had Army weapons specialists and US disease investigators on full alert Monday.

Almost 150 people in the province have been stricken with botulism, a rare yet lethal bacterial disease that could potentially be used as a biological weapon.

Health authorities have sought international assistance treating the patients.

US military biological weapons experts have been flown into Nan, as have World Health Organisation disease specialists, said Thai Disease Control Department chief Thawat Suntharacharn.

Since March 4, 143 villagers in Nan's Ban Luang district have been diagnosed as suffering from botulism, a disease caused by toxins produced by several members of a group of bacteria known as Clostridium botulinum.

All of the patients reported having eaten dishes containing preserved bamboo shoots from the same batch at a merit-making feast in their village last week. Shortly after eating the shoots they began to suffer similar symptoms, including vomiting, diarrhoea, difficulty swallowing, dry mouths and muscle weakness, Nan chief health officer Dr Pisit Sriprasert said on Sunday. Of the 147, 33 are currently breathing with the aid of respirators, he said.

"This bacterium is among three strains that can be used as a biological warfare agent - the others are anthrax and smallpox," said Thawat.

Fears of a biological attack arose because of the number of people falling ill at one time.

TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: botulism; msm; thailand; wmd
The Headlines would have you getting on your biohazard suit and looking for the nearest Maoist or Muslim. However, as is made more clear in the Bangkok Post article on the same incident, it was just a case of poor hygene py the local canning company (combined with a low estimate of the number falling ill which caused the foreign responders to bring an insufficiet quanity of serum) The Post article says as follows:

Almost 170 villagers from Ban Luang district were admitted to the provincial hospital last week after eating tinned bamboo shoots and developing botulism, a form of food poisoning caused by the clostridium botulinum bacteria.

A team of medics investigating the disease outbreak suspected that the villagers' unhygienic production of tinned bamboo shoots was the cause of the food poisoning.

Our friends there say that the leftists are already spouting the mantra -- "It was a US military test" As depressing as it is predictable.

1 posted on 03/20/2006 7:48:22 PM PST by JimSEA
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To: JimSEA
Yep. You get a leaky can, you get a microaerophilic environment that is necessary for C. botulinum to grow the toxin. You serve it at a party and you have a lot of sick or dead people. Meat is perfect, but bamboo shoots will do - it used to happen fairly often in the days when canned meat was popular in the West.
2 posted on 03/20/2006 7:54:59 PM PST by Billthedrill
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To: JimSEA

This does not bear the marks of an intentional attack using botulinum toxin. It does bear all the marks of a standard case of food poisoning due to improperly food handling or canning.

I find it hard to believe that U.S. officials would take this seriously, unless it was just to placate locals.

3 posted on 03/20/2006 7:56:53 PM PST by Sola Veritas (Trying to speak truth - not always with the best grammar or spelling)
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To: Sola Veritas
I believe that it was primarily a mercy mission as Thailand has no serum plus, they wanted to see what this type of poisoning looked like in large numbers of people in case we get hit by a bio-terror attack in USA.
4 posted on 03/20/2006 8:00:21 PM PST by JimSEA (America cannot have an exit strategy from the world.)
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To: Billthedrill

sounds like someone was doing a trial run.

5 posted on 03/20/2006 8:01:45 PM PST by Walkingfeather (u)
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To: Walkingfeather
Naw, or at least I doubt it. Why bother? The stuff is easy to grow and everyone knows how deadly it is. The difficulty with bacterial toxins is that they tend to be fairly large proteins, and hence degrade pretty rapidly in the field. Throwing the stuff in a reservoir, for example, sounds like a perfect terrorist ploy but in practice the toxin doesn't stay toxic very long. A little sunlight, a little chlorine, and that's pretty much the end of the story.

It wouldn't be bad as an assassination weapon under controlled circumstances, though. But I don't think this was that. Could be wrong, of course.

6 posted on 03/20/2006 8:07:44 PM PST by Billthedrill
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To: JimSEA

it's funny how i start seeing all these kinds of stories coming from Thailand just before my trip there this weekend.

7 posted on 03/20/2006 8:10:02 PM PST by mfnorman
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To: mfnorman

Where are you going?

8 posted on 03/20/2006 8:12:47 PM PST by ASA Vet (Those who talk don't know, those who know don't talk.)
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To: JimSEA

It is claimed that one pint of pure botulin toxin would be sufficient to kill the entire population of the world.

As a weapon its drawback is the difficulty of getting 5B people to all line up for their injections.

9 posted on 03/20/2006 8:20:10 PM PST by Restorer
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To: ASA Vet

staying with my girlfriend and her family up near Phetchabun.

10 posted on 03/20/2006 8:35:57 PM PST by mfnorman
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To: mfnorman
We frequently go to Nan because, to me at least, it is the most beautiful inland province. I can see us getting some tainted bamboo shoots very easily and, because of the spice, eating more than a little. In Arizona years ago, I can remember an entire family dying due to tainted home caned green beans.
11 posted on 03/20/2006 8:54:54 PM PST by JimSEA (America cannot have an exit strategy from the world.)
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To: JimSEA

looks like i'll be removing bamboo from my menu

12 posted on 03/20/2006 9:12:27 PM PST by mfnorman
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To: Dog; ravingnutter; Straight Vermonter; killjoy; expatguy


13 posted on 03/20/2006 10:44:44 PM PST by Wiz
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