U.S. Milk Supply at Risk of Biological Attack?

Man in bio gear holding chemical In spite of the lack of recent attacks against U.S. soil, bioterror remains a real and present danger. We want to give you a brief update on this threat, and more to the point, tell you what you need to know now to reduce any threat to you and your loved ones.

Access to the necessary supplies and equipment to manufacture a biological weapon is easier than ever, given the rapid expansion of science and technology. Brett Giroir, former head of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency solemnly warns:

“What took me three weeks in a sophisticated laboratory in a top-tier medical school 20 years ago, with millions of dollars in equipment, can essentially be done by a relatively unsophisticated technician… [Today] A person at a graduate-school level has all the tools and technologies to implement a sophisticated program to create a bioweapon.”

Potential biological threats are many, but two of the most likely to be used against us are smallpox and botulinum toxin.

U.S. Government
Buys Unprecedented Supply
of Smallpox Vaccine

Smallpox is the biological threat that the U.S. government takes most seriously. Smallpox is highly infectious, and it has a long incubation period, meaning carriers may infect others before they realize that they’re infected. Smallpox kills one in three people it infects.

Smallpox has been eradicated as an infectious disease, but it still exists in laboratories. Not long after 9/11, U.S. officials ran a simulation trying to anticipate the impact of a smallpox attack should a terrorist manage to steal or manufacture a smallpox sample and release it. Their simulation revealed that a smallpox attack could result in up to a million American deaths.

In response to those horrific predictions, the government stepped up its purchase of the smallpox vaccine. It has since stockpiled enough vaccine to inoculate every citizen in the country. And it currently is in the process of buying two million doses of a drug that may be effective in treating smallpox.

Smallpox primarily spreads through contact with an infected person who has already developed a rash. But once an infected person develops a fever, and even before the rash is apparent, they can transmit the disease. Smallpox is also very stable and survives outside of the body for some time. Touching a surface – a stair rail, a doorknob – that an infected person has touched can cause you to get sick.

The most likely scenario for a smallpox outbreak is through infected terrorists infiltrating large cities and coming into close contact with as many people as they can. Imagine suicide bioterrorists, if you will, riding the subways, buses, and commuter rails in major cities.

Should you develop smallpox symptoms – a fever over 101 degrees and general malaise followed by the eruption of a rash – see a doctor as quickly as you can to receive treatment.

Got Milk?

Glass of Milk Another form of probable terrorism comes from one of the most deadly poisons in nature. Botulism. The botulinum toxin is a neurotoxin that dissolves readily in water or watery liquids. Within 36 hours of ingesting it, you’ll begin to feel dizzy, weak, and thirsty. As symptoms progress, you’ll experience loss of motor control, blurred vision, and respiratory distress. Left untreated, the toxin has a 60 percent mortality rate.

One possible method of delivery is through the milk supply. Just a few grams of botulinum toxin are enough to contaminate a hundred thousand gallons of milk. Even if the milk is pasteurized after the toxin is added – a step that would reduce but not eliminate the toxin’s potency – this kind of attack could potentially claim tens of thousands of lives before the government figured out where the attack was coming from.

The surest way to protect yourself from this kind of attack is buy your milk from a local dairy farmer if at all possible.

Preparing for What U.S. Emergency Planners
Regard as Inevitable

A biological attack on our country may be inevitable, but that doesn’t mean you’re helpless. Knowing how to recognize and protect yourself from the most likely kinds of attack is the first step to preparing. In most cases such an attack would affect a localized area—a single city, for example.

Being prepared for this scenario is very similar to establishing your self-reliance in many other situations – you need to be prepared at all times to either evacuate and relocate immediately, or to shelter in place indefinitely. If you can achieve this, or at least make steady progress toward it, you’ll truly be ready for anything.

At a minimum, you should have stores of food, water, and medicine – and a plan for backup power – to weather the aftermath of such an attack.