With deadly viruses, bacteria and fungi already prevalent and mutating throughout the United States and world, the potential for a possible outbreak like the influenza pandemic of 1917 is always present. Plus, when you realize that certain diseases such as the MERS virus in the Middle East and the Ebola virus in Africa are already causing havoc in those regions, one must wonder if any of these known or potentially unknown deadly diseases could take hold in this country. Worse yet, there is something scarier to consider: could we accidentally release one of these deadly diseases into the USA?
Though it sounds like science fiction (in fact, it is the basis of my medical/political thriller The New Reality), this possibility may be closer to fact than fiction. A recent incident at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) near Atlanta piqued my concern. It is well known that the CDC stores, evaluates and experiments upon some of the most deadly diseases in the world. One of these diseases is Anthrax—and no, not the rock band. If infected with this bacteria, a person could have gastrointestinal, skin and pulmonary symptoms, ultimately leading to death in most cases.
While working with anthrax at the CDC, scientists thought they adequately inactivated the bacteria. However, after transporting it to a few other labs within the CDC, it was discovered that the bacteria was not only not dead, but it had also aerosolized its deadly spores. 75 scientists were potentially contaminated as a result and subsequently began treatment in case they were infected.
Fortunately, no one receiving this antibiotic treatment has yet to show any signs of infection. However, the threat of potential future human errors still remains.