Friday, August 1, 2014

Ebola Outbreak, Security Implications of Victims Here in the USA

Ebola Outbreak “Worsening” in West Africa - Scientific American

We are all reading about the tragedy of the Americans that have comedown with the dreaded Ebola Virus.  Now some are coming to the US for both treatment and in one case burial. Both come with some very important security implications to all of us in the US.

I think the living patients are going to be well treated and secured, the question always becomes what happens to items and or bodies of patients with Ebola.  One family want's the body sent home, and is quoting religions grounds.  This can be a problem, the body will have the virus still associated with it and researchers are still not certain of the life of the virus in a body.  The family waiting for it's body will or has gotten the news that the body was cremated last Sunday.

The reasons for all this is a security issue we have dealt with before.  The only Anthrax terrorist attempt in the US that did not use weaponized Anthrax spoors developed in a lab, was by two disgruntled American's that wanted to bring down our Government.  They had researched and found where a number of animals had been buried that had died of anthrax and had dug them up and used the spoors they found to concoct their weapon.

Now Anthrax has an almost unlimited shelf life, and often needs only the moisture from you body to bring it into an active state. In this case the men, mixed it with a hand cream so it would penetrate the hands of people touching it.  The plan was to smear the concoction on the hand rails of a transportation hub, and as people grabbed the rails the anthrax would enter the body.  From what we know it quite possible that it would have worked.  Unfortunately for the two, a girlfriend got wind of the plan, and used it to get back at her boyfriend for some indiscretion.  She went to the police, who did find the mixture and it was disposed of.

So back to Ebola, in Africa they are trying to meet the religious and community needs, and are trying to disinfect the bodies for burial, there is no understanding if this will eliminate the problem, so they are also trying to find a separate burial site for the bodies.   This brings into the situation an issue with the security of the burial site.

Now bring the same situation to the US, the CDC and our Government is I think well versed in disposing of contaminated medical supplies, the issue will be the bodies.  If they are allowed to be buried they bring a risk of someone recovering the body or even a part of, our even fluids from it.  All could well be deadly in the wrong hands, actually any hands, but we are more worried about terrorist events.

This has been a threat vector the US has been worried about for years, almost any deadly biological incident that has happen in our past is a possible danger to our futures.  One worry has been that families do not want to disclose the sickness and death of a loved one due to a possible biological incident, due to religious or even civil liability grounds.

Our planning for this has always been from the health side, and is reactive to known events, with the enhanced turmoil in the world and the advent of the suicide bomber, the  suicide carrier of an infectious biological has to be part of our game plan.

So as you are dusting off those pandemic event plans, please add this to your planning.

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