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Al Qaeda bungles arms experiment - Biological or chemical weapons
washingtontimes.com ^ | January 19, 2009 | Eli Lake

Posted on 01/19/2009 9:34:25 PM PST by Free ThinkerNY

An al Qaeda affiliate in Algeria closed a base earlier this month after an experiment with unconventional weapons went awry, a senior U.S. intelligence official said Monday.

The official, who spoke on the condition he not be named because of the sensitive nature of the issue, said he could not confirm press reports that the accident killed at least 40 al Qaeda operatives, but he said the mishap led the militant group to shut down a base in the mountains of Tizi Ouzou province in eastern Algeria.

He said authorities in the first week of January intercepted an urgent communication between the leadership of al Qaeda in the Land of the Maghreb (AQIM) and al Qaeda's leadership in the tribal region of Pakistan on the border with Afghanistan. The communication suggested that an area sealed to prevent leakage of a biological or chemical substance had been breached, according to the official.

"We don't know if this is biological or chemical," the official said.

The story was first reported by the British tabloid the Sun, which said the al Qaeda operatives died after being infected with a strain of bubonic plague, the disease that killed a third of Europe's population in the 14th century. But the intelligence official dismissed that claim.

(Excerpt) Read more at washingtontimes.com ...


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: alqaeda; aqim; bioterrorism; bubonic; bubonicplague; plague; tiziouzou; tiziouzouprovince; workaccident
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1 posted on 01/19/2009 9:34:25 PM PST by Free ThinkerNY
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To: Free ThinkerNY

They will try again


2 posted on 01/19/2009 9:36:07 PM PST by GeronL (DAY 1, YEAR 0 - The first day of the rest of our lives. The first day of the Oministration.)
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To: GeronL

Indeed. People have forgotten that we face a determined enemy.


3 posted on 01/19/2009 9:38:26 PM PST by Army Air Corps (Four fried chickens and a coke)
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To: GeronL

That could be horrific in Manhattan or other densely populated
city.


4 posted on 01/19/2009 9:38:36 PM PST by Anti-Bubba182
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To: Free ThinkerNY

This is one of those stories in which every single piece of information should be taken with a grain of salt.


5 posted on 01/19/2009 9:38:48 PM PST by squidly
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To: Free ThinkerNY

It’s George Bushes fault. Them poor Al Queda’s got killed by biological weapons. But that’s okay Barack Hussein will be President tomorrow and all of the Hussein’s love the Al Queda’s so he will make it all better. His first official act will be to send the poor Al Queda’s a hallmark with his deepest apologies.


6 posted on 01/19/2009 9:39:46 PM PST by cquiggy
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To: Anti-Bubba182

DUers first reaction would be to blame ‘rightwing christians’... Muslims would never cross their minds


7 posted on 01/19/2009 9:40:06 PM PST by GeronL (DAY 1, YEAR 0 - The first day of the rest of our lives. The first day of the Oministration.)
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To: Army Air Corps

Some of them don’t think we have an enemy now that Hussein is in the WH


8 posted on 01/19/2009 9:41:09 PM PST by GeronL (DAY 1, YEAR 0 - The first day of the rest of our lives. The first day of the Oministration.)
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To: Anti-Bubba182

A few infected people wandering around Washington tomorrow could start a pandemic.


9 posted on 01/19/2009 9:41:54 PM PST by null and void (KENYAN GO HOME!)
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To: null and void

Old commie Pete Seeger getting nipped by a few fleas?


10 posted on 01/19/2009 9:43:14 PM PST by Frantzie
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To: Free ThinkerNY; Mother Abigail; RandallFlagg; Smokin' Joe; Judith Anne; neverdem; EBH; ...

ping


11 posted on 01/19/2009 9:43:28 PM PST by null and void (KENYAN GO HOME!)
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To: Free ThinkerNY

This reminds me of the war on drugs. We never show any competence. Here is an Islamic base training to kill us in Algeria...a la Afghanistan 2000. Do we do anything about it? Sadly, no. We will though, after they bomb the White House. Boy, we’ll get em then. You’ll see.


12 posted on 01/19/2009 9:44:25 PM PST by spyone (ridiculum)
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To: Frantzie
Old commie Pete Seeger getting nipped by a few fleas?

From the earlier articles it's gone pneumonic.

Direct human-to-human transmission via coughing.

Asymptomatic but contagious for a week or so, sick for hours or a few days, then dead...

13 posted on 01/19/2009 9:46:30 PM PST by null and void (KENYAN GO HOME!)
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To: cquiggy

Some DUers said this was Bush’s last warcrime on his way out. These people are really that demented


14 posted on 01/19/2009 9:46:45 PM PST by GeronL (DAY 1, YEAR 0 - The first day of the rest of our lives. The first day of the Oministration.)
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To: Free ThinkerNY; G8 Diplomat; 1COUNTER-MORTER-68; marron
FYI!

I am so glad that Leon Panetta is at the helm of the CIA. I get the warm and fuzzies all over, not as extreme as Chrissie, but close. /s

15 posted on 01/19/2009 9:47:34 PM PST by Chgogal (Don't look at me. You elected them, Comrade!)
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To: null and void

Get out the banjo tomorrow. “This land is your land this land is my land *cough*”

I got sick seeing that old idiot and Springsteen in front of the Lincoln Monument. He was the biggest apologost and fawing stooge for mass murderer Joe Stalin ever seen.


16 posted on 01/19/2009 9:48:48 PM PST by Frantzie
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To: squidly
"This is one of those stories in which every single piece of information should be taken with a grain of salt."

If it is true it is the result of the squalid rat infested conditions they choose to live in. One for the fleas.

17 posted on 01/19/2009 9:49:22 PM PST by blackbart.223 (I live in Northern Nevada. Reid doesn't represent me.)
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To: blackbart.223

Bats. Don’t forget the bats.


18 posted on 01/19/2009 9:50:47 PM PST by null and void (KENYAN GO HOME!)
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To: cquiggy

Yep - I’m preparing for farts to come out as sunshine and sugar - the Messiah be here for all!


19 posted on 01/19/2009 9:50:51 PM PST by GOPsterinMA (Obama/Biden...change you can laugh at!)
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To: Free ThinkerNY

Imagine time critical information in the field over such weapons?
Wouldn’t want to roughly interrogate anyone would we?

We just ask nice and civil, maybe they see the Obama light and spill the beans.


20 posted on 01/19/2009 9:51:19 PM PST by Names Ash Housewares (Refusing to kneel before the socialist messiah. 1-20-13 Freedom Day.)
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To: Army Air Corps

Indeed. People have forgotten that we face a determined enemy.
:::::::::
Something for our rock-star socialist to start thinking about. It’s showtime, and soon. This will be very telling.


21 posted on 01/19/2009 9:51:54 PM PST by EagleUSA
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To: Frantzie
"I got sick seeing that old idiot and Springsteen in front of the Lincoln Monument."

I don't have that problem as I refuse to watch any of that crap.

22 posted on 01/19/2009 9:52:08 PM PST by blackbart.223 (I live in Northern Nevada. Reid doesn't represent me.)
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To: Free ThinkerNY

The Black Plague explanation i read earlier did not ring true.

I dont ride the subway as often as i used to, but it wouldnt surprise me if many NYers, including yours truly, met their demise there someday in an awful cloud of toxicity.


23 posted on 01/19/2009 9:52:16 PM PST by Canedawg
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To: spyone
Here is an Islamic base training to kill us in Algeria...a la Afghanistan 2000.

*****

I feel exactly as you do. I'd be much happier if the first paragraph of the article read as follows:

An al Qaeda affiliate in Algeria closed a base earlier this month after US forces bombed it to smithereens, a senior U.S. intelligence official said Monday.

There, THAT is how it should be.

24 posted on 01/19/2009 9:54:04 PM PST by Hepsabeth
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To: blackbart.223

I just saw a picture here on FR in a post. My TV is off. I am canceling sat TV.


25 posted on 01/19/2009 9:54:59 PM PST by Frantzie
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To: Free ThinkerNY
Additional discussion...

Al Qaeda hit by Black Death fear as medieval plague kills 40 terrorists at training camp

26 posted on 01/19/2009 9:55:30 PM PST by ForGod'sSake (ABCNNBCBS: A lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth can get its socks on!)
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To: null and void
"Bats. Don’t forget the bats."

I thought bats carried rabies. But if bats infect them with rabies what the hell. I'm in favor of that as well.

27 posted on 01/19/2009 9:55:40 PM PST by blackbart.223 (I live in Northern Nevada. Reid doesn't represent me.)
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To: ForGod'sSake
Earlier related thread here:

Deadliest weapon so far... the plague

(this current thread is not a dupe)...

28 posted on 01/19/2009 9:56:49 PM PST by null and void (KENYAN GO HOME!)
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To: Frantzie
" My TV is off. I am canceling sat TV."

I don't think I'll go that far. I just won't watch any of that crap.

29 posted on 01/19/2009 9:59:18 PM PST by blackbart.223 (I live in Northern Nevada. Reid doesn't represent me.)
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To: Hepsabeth

Yes, and furthermore, It was likely not an accident, other than to those killed. Al Qeeda mgmt killed their own guys on purpose. A test run. Mission accomplished. Next step USA.


30 posted on 01/19/2009 9:59:53 PM PST by spyone (ridiculum)
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To: blackbart.223

Right you are. Bats apparently aren’t much of a plague reservoir.


31 posted on 01/19/2009 10:03:49 PM PST by null and void (KENYAN GO HOME!)
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To: Hepsabeth

Fast forward to 2011....congressional hearings.
CONGRESSMAN: you mean, we knew about these camps, what they were doing, and did nothing? did we learn nothing from Afghanistan?
CIA OFFICER: well, we did, but it was during the presidential transition period, and the president was playing the Abe Lincoln role for the idiot peasants, so we couldn’t get the neccessary approvals.


32 posted on 01/19/2009 10:11:20 PM PST by spyone (ridiculum)
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To: null and void
Apparently getting a fair amount of exposure and discussion on FR...

Will we ever know the source for sure???

33 posted on 01/19/2009 10:13:09 PM PST by ForGod'sSake (ABCNNBCBS: A lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth can get its socks on!)
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To: ForGod'sSake

You and I won’t, but perhaps a few of our “betters” will.


34 posted on 01/19/2009 10:15:38 PM PST by null and void (KENYAN GO HOME!)
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To: null and void

thanks, bfl


35 posted on 01/19/2009 10:17:30 PM PST by neverdem (Xin loi minh oi)
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To: null and void
"Right you are. Bats apparently aren’t much of a plague reservoir."

So long as you you don't kiss one on the lips.

36 posted on 01/19/2009 10:19:25 PM PST by blackbart.223 (I live in Northern Nevada. Reid doesn't represent me.)
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To: blackbart.223

You must remember this,
a kiss is just a kiss...


37 posted on 01/19/2009 10:25:51 PM PST by null and void (KENYAN GO HOME!)
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To: Free ThinkerNY

Bio-warfare, the poor man’s atomic bomb....


38 posted on 01/19/2009 10:31:35 PM PST by ASOC (This space could be employed, if I could only get a bailout...)
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To: null and void
"You must remember this, a kiss is just a kiss..."

Unless you you kiss a rabid bat. It then becomes a bit more.

39 posted on 01/19/2009 10:33:19 PM PST by blackbart.223 (I live in Northern Nevada. Reid doesn't represent me.)
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To: spyone
"This reminds me of the war on drugs. We never show any competence'

Seems to me that they have been making plenty of massive drug busts. The 'war' seems to be going pretty good.

40 posted on 01/19/2009 10:56:09 PM PST by Nathan Zachary
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To: Frantzie
I got sick seeing that old idiot and Springsteen in front of the Lincoln Monument. He was the biggest apologost and fawing stooge for mass murderer Joe Stalin ever seen.

It seems that old commies never die, nor do they fade away!

41 posted on 01/19/2009 11:05:53 PM PST by Rummyfan (Iraq: it's not about Iraq anymore, it's about the USA!)
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To: null and void

Let’s hope that doesn’t happen! But the reverse of keeping roadways closed for a two mile radius is that the people within the radius can also be kept in/quarantined.


42 posted on 01/19/2009 11:07:23 PM PST by petitfour
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To: All

Related link with additional sources:

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2167129/posts


43 posted on 01/19/2009 11:13:51 PM PST by Cindy
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To: Cindy; STARWISE; Liz; StarCMC; freema
“The story was first reported by the British tabloid the Sun, which said the al Qaeda operatives died after being infected with a strain of bubonic plague, the disease that killed a third of Europe's population in the 14th century. But the intelligence official dismissed that claim.”

Any thoughts why the Sun source differs so much from the Washingtime’s source? You would think it would be easy to verify what the terrorist died of.

44 posted on 01/19/2009 11:18:15 PM PST by Chgogal (Don't look at me. You elected them, Comrade!)
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To: Chgogal

Breaking news can be different than developing news and can be different than the final story and that is why I’ve stayed on the original thread posting what I’ve found.

Also, generally speaking reporters vary as to how in depth their research is.

As for this Washington Times article, it is written by Eli Lake and I think Lake is a good, solid reporter.

Thank you for asking.

That’s a good question.


45 posted on 01/19/2009 11:27:54 PM PST by Cindy
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To: Free ThinkerNY
The Plague is endemic to the region.

 

Volume 12, Number 12–December 2006

Dispatch

Zoonotic Focus of Plague, Algeria

Idir Bitam,*† Belkacem Baziz,‡ Jean-Marc Rolain,† Miloud Belkaid,* and Didier Raoult† Comments to Author
*Institut Pasteur d'Algérie, Algiers, Algeria; †Université de la Méditerranée, Marseille, France; and ‡Institut National Agronomique, El Harrach, Alger, Algeria

Suggested citation for this article

Abstract
After an outbreak of human plague, 95 Xenopsylla cheopis fleas from Algeria were tested for Yersinia pestis with PCR methods. Nine fleas were definitively confirmed to be infected with Y. pestis biovar orientalis. Our results demonstrate the persistence of a zoonotic focus of Y. pestis in Algeria.

Yersinia pestis, the agent of plague, has shaped the course of human history, killing millions of people in 3 major pandemics (1). This bacterium remains endemic in parts of Asia, Africa, and the Americas, where it poses a substantial zoonotic threat to human populations. The organism has also recently received attention as a possible bioterrorism agent (2). Y. pestis primarily infects small mammals, particularly rodents, and is transmitted from infected to uninfected hosts by fleas (1). More than 200 different mammalian species and at least 80 different species of fleas have been implicated in maintaining Y. pestis in zoonotic foci throughout the world (1,3). Among them, the rat flea, Xenopsylla cheopis, is considered a major competent vector (1).

The Study

In June 2003, an outbreak of plague emerged in the Oran area of Algeria (4). During the following weeks, a total of 11 confirmed and 7 suspected cases of plague were reported from the same area (4). The University Hospital in Oran confirmed the plague diagnosis. All cases were bubonic plague; septicemia and coma later developed in 2 patients. According to national health records, the last outbreak in Oran was in 1946 and the last human cases of plague occurred in Algeria in 1950. The aim of this study was, by using molecular methods, to investigate the presence of Y. pestis in fleas collected from rodents.

Figure
Figure.

Map of the zone where fleas were collected and sites of epidemic plague reported, Algeria, June 2003.

The sites of the original focus of reported plague cases were Kehailia (35°29´N, 0°32´E) and Benaouali (35°33´N, 0°21´E), in the area of Oran and Mascara, ≈450 km west of the capital, Algiers (Figure). Fleas were collected from rodents trapped inside human residences and peridomestic areas within this area (Figure) from September 2004 to May 2005 by using BTS (Besancon Technique Service, INRA, Montpellier, France) and Sherman Trap (H.P. Sherman Traps, Tallahassee, FL, USA). Specimens were stored in absolute ethanol before being tested in Marseille, France, in May 2005. Preliminary morphologic identification was performed (by I.B.) by using entomologic taxonomic keys (5). Identification was confirmed by sequencing regions of siphonapteran 18S rDNA, as previously described (6). Sequences were compared with flea sequences deposited in the 18S rDNA database of the Whiting Laboratory (6). Ethanol-preserved fleas were rinsed with distilled water for 10 minutes and dried on sterile filter paper in a laminar biosafety hood. Fleas were crushed individually in sterile Eppendorf tubes with the tips of a sterile pipette. DNA was extracted by using the QIAamp Tissue Kit (Qiagen, Hilden, Germany) according to the manufacturer's instructions. Y. pestis DNA was detected by real-time PCR with primers against the plasminogen activator (Pla) gene of Y. pestis (Eurogentec, Angers, France) as previously described (7). For this assay, negative controls consisted of extracted DNA of uninfected fleas from colonies of our laboratory. Positive control consisted of a plasmid previously developed in our laboratory for detecting bioterrorism agents; using this control permitted both control of cycling efficacy and detection of contamination during the PCR process (7). To confirm positive results, extracted DNA was amplified, and PCR products were sequenced by using 2 alternative spacer targets of Y. pestis (spacers YP8 and YP9) as previously described (8). Positive sample products were sequenced with an ABI 3130Xl Genetic Analyzer (Applied Biosystems, Coignieres, France). Sequences were compared with those available in GenBank by using the nucleotide-nucleotide BLAST (blastn) program (available from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/BLAST/) together with those of our local database (8).

Ninety five fleas were collected from rodents, including 21 Rattus rattus, 13 R. norvegicus, 7 Mus musculus, and 8 M. spretus trapped inside the houses and in the peridomestic areas of the cities of Kehailia and Benaouali (Figure). Using taxonomic keys, we identified all 95 fleas morphologically as X. cheopis (the rat flea); fleas index was calculated according to rats or mice, respectively (3.333 and 3.125). Identity was confirmed by sequencing and comparison of an 1,867-bp informative region of siphonapteran 18S rDNA. (6). Using the LightCycler (LC, Roche Diagnostics, Mannheim, Germany) real-time-PCR assay previously developed for detecting bioterrorism agents targeting the plasminogen activator gene (7), we found 20 (21.05%) of 95 fleas positive with a cycle threshold (Ct) value ranging from 27.2 to 33.91. Among these 20 positive fleas, 9 were also positive in multiple spacer typing (MST) assays by using primers targeting spacer YP8 and 8 with primers targeting the spacer YP9 (). No nucleic acids were amplified from the negative controls. The mean Ct value obtained with the LC assay for the 9 fleas positive with the YP8 primers was significantly lower that the mean Ct value for the remaining 11 fleas only positive with the LC assay (29.56 ± 1.55; n = 9 vs. 31.98 ± 1.13; n = 11; p = 0.0005) (). Thus, LC assay appears to be more sensitive than MST assay. Sequences of the PCR products obtained with YP8 and YP9 primers were 100% identical to sequences of Y. pestis biovar orientalis (GenBank accession nos. AE017139 and YP02648) (8).

Conclusions

In this study we present molecular evidence of Y. pestis in 20 X. cheopis fleas collected in the area of Oran, Algeria. The molecular methods used in our study have been previously validated (7,8), and precautions were taken to reduce risks for contamination during processing.

Rieux, the hero of Albert Camus (9) in "La Peste," aimed to relate the events of the plague outbreak in Oran in the 1940s with the highest objectivity. He stated that "the virus" of plague can come back 1 day and he asked to be aware when it did. Apparently plague has retired but is waiting in numerous foci and could reemerge, as it did in India during the 1990s. The "comeback" of plague in the region of Oran occurred in June 2003. In this study, we detected Y. pestis in rodent fleas collected from September 2004 to May 2005 in the same area as those plague cases occurred. Our results confirm that Y. pestis infection is still present in Algeria. The persistence of zoonotic foci of plague is worrying since persons living in these areas remain in close contact with rodents and fleas. Despite the absence of new cases since June 2003, the risk for further outbreaks remains high. Surveillance should be maintained to monitor this natural focus and potential spread resulting from climatic or habitat influences (10). A strong case could be made to extend surveillance to adjacent countries such as Libya and Mauritania, which also have natural foci of plague, according to the World Health Organization. In conclusion we believe that detection of Y. pestis in fleas can be a useful tool for epidemiologic surveillance of plague in specific settings and could thus serve to study the risk for reemergence of the disease.

Acknowledgments

We are grateful to Katharina Dittmar de la Cruz for help in molecular identification of fleas, Philippe Parola for help in the molecular identification of fleas, and Sally Cutler for carefully reviewing the manuscript. We thank the Direction de la prévention du ministère de la santé Algérienn and Souad Belhabri for technical assistance.

Mr Bitam is a doctoral student at the Unité des Rickettsies, Faculty of Medicine of Marseille. He is responsible for the unit of medical entomology at the Institut Pasteur d'Algérie. His research interests include fleas and fleaborne diseases.

References

  1. Pollitzer R. Plague. WHO monograph series no. 22. Geneva: World Health Organization; 1954.
  2. Riedel S. Plague: from natural disease to bioterrorism. Proc (Bayl Univ Med Cent). 2005;18:116–24.
  3. Poland J, Barnes AM. Plague. In: Steele JH, editor. CRC handbook series in zoonoses. Boca Raton (FL): CRC; 1979. p. 515–97.
  4. World Health Organisation. Plague in Algeria – update 2. Wkly Epidemiol Rec. 2003;78:253–60.
  5. Beaucournu JC, Launay F. [Les puces (Siphonaptera) de France et du bassin méditerranéen occidental]. Paris: Fédération Française des Sociétés de Sciences Naturelles; 1990.
  6. Bitam I, Parola P, Dittmar de la Cruz K, Matsumoto K, Baziz B, Rolain JM, et al. First molecular detection of Rickettsia felis in fleas from Algeria. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2006;74:532–5.
  7. Charrel RN, La Scola B, Raoult D. Multi-pathogens sequence containing plasmids as positive controls for universal detection of potential agents of bioterrorism. BMC Microbiol. 2004;4:1–11
  8. Drancourt M, Roux V, Dang LV, Tran-Hung L, Castex D, Chenal-Francisque V, et al. Genotyping, Orientalis-like Yersinia pestis, and plague pandemics. Emerg Infect Dis. 2004;10:1585–92.
  9. Camus A. La peste. Paris: Gallimard Poche; 1996.
  10. Duplantier JM, Duchemin JB, Chanteau S, Carniel E. From the recent lessons of the Malagasy foci towards a global understanding of the factors involved in plague reemergence. Vet Res. 2005;36:437–53.

Figure

Table

Suggested Citation for this Article

Bitam I, Baziz B, Rolain J-M, Belkaid M, Raoult D. Zoonotic focus of plague, Algeria. Emerg Infect Dis [serial on the Internet]. 2006 Dec [date cited]. Available from http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/EID/vol12no12/06-0522.htm

Comments to the Authors

Please use the form below to submit correspondence to the authors or contact them at the following address:

Didier Raoult, Unité des Rickettsies CNRS UMR 6020, IFR 48, Faculté de Médecine, Université de la Méditerranée, 27 Bd Jean Moulin, 13385 Marseille CEDEX 5, France; email: Didier.Raoult@medecine.univ-mrs.fr

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Comments to the EID Editors

Please contact the EID Editors at eideditor@cdc.gov

The opinions expressed by authors contributing to this journal do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the authors' affiliated institutions. Use of trade names is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by any of the groups named above.

This page posted November 13, 2006
This page last reviewed November 17, 2006

46 posted on 01/19/2009 11:45:23 PM PST by JerseyHighlander
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To: GeronL

AW well,
I think all this stuff is just post 9/11 mindset stuff....what
we all have to do is to learn to live together with our murdering jihadi brothas...just bring em all cups of tea..and it’ll be all allright
KUMBAYA....and kubla khan n aleui bark bark ......

‘BLECH!’


47 posted on 01/20/2009 3:11:00 AM PST by ffff (:)
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To: Chgogal
Any thoughts why the Sun source differs so much from the Washingtime’s source? You would think it would be easy to verify what the terrorist died of.

Sometimes, just being in the ballpark is enough.

48 posted on 01/20/2009 3:16:26 AM PST by freema (MarineNiece,Daughter,Wife,Friend,Sister,Friend,Aunt,Friend,Mother,Friend,Cousin, FRiend)
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To: Free ThinkerNY

Hmmm, wonder if this is where some of Iraqs weapons were taken?


49 posted on 01/20/2009 3:50:18 AM PST by McGavin999
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To: Free ThinkerNY

.......We don’t know if this is biological or chemica.....

The headline is a lie based on the meat of the article. all we really think we know is that some AQ dies in Algeria.


50 posted on 01/20/2009 4:22:55 AM PST by bert (K.E. N.P. +12 . The original point of America was not to be Europe)
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