Monday, February 18, 2013

Plum Island

This video, from Wired, comes from back in 2008 before the decision was made to place the new National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) in Manhattan Kansas. This new facility is designed to replace the Plum Island Animal Disease Center, near Long Island in New York State, and one option being considered at the time was to upgrade the Plum Island facility.

Foot-and-mouth disease is a highly infectious viral disease of cloven hoofed animals including cattle. It is not endemic to the United States and could cause billions of dollars of damage if it was released (a 2001 outbreak in the United Kingdom cost $16 billion).

Federal law stipulates that live foot-and-mouth disease virus cannot be studied on the mainland, and so Plum Island is currently the only laboratory in the U.S. studying it. Plum Island has accidentally released foot-and-mouth disease at least three times, most recently in 2004.

One of the arguments FOR locating the NBAF in Kansas is that it will be in the middle of the nation's cattle belt. What could possibly go wrong?

Hint: a second outbreak in the UK in 2007 was traced back to a strain used at the Institute for Animal Health and an examination of the 'secure' facility revealed an old, poorly maintained and defective effluent system.

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