An outbreak of an obscure and fast-spreading decease – a pulmonary syndrome caused by hantavirus – was reported in the US Yosemite National Park. No specific cure for hantavirus being on record up to date, three people are already dead and around 8,000 guests are thought to be at risk of having contracted it during their stays in the park's tent cabins in June-August. According to USA Today and other sources, the threat actually hangs over 22,000 tourists including 2,500 foreign nationals from 40 countries, who visited the Yosemite National Park last summer. The disease is known to be rodent-born and, supposedly, can be passed from human to human.
The US health authorities estimate lethality due to hantavirus at 36%, which is considerably higher than the 2-3% for Spanish flue in the early XX century and marginally comparable to the 30-60% for plague absent any medical treatment… Due to the long incubation period – two to four weeks after exposure – hantavirus tends to evade timely diagnosing, with the initial signs of illness being mostly flu-like and no specifically-targeted vaccine available.
It may seem strange that the park administration neither closed the grounds following the September 1 fatality reports nor issued any warnings to alert potential visitors. In fact, at the moment the park is open and hosts thousands of travelers. Questions arise in the context such as where the infected rodents could be from, whether there was any chance that hantavirus escaped from the US armed forces' secret laboratories, and was the timing of the outbreak – shortly ahead of the US presidential elections – attributable to a mere coincidence.
While the origin of most viruses may be hard to track, quite a few are, by credible accounts, human-made. “Outbreak”, a 1995 American disaster film starring Dustin Hoffman, was based on a fictional story of a lethal virus originally discovered overseas and, much later, surfacing in the US, where, as it transpires, a design exists to use it in biological warfare. The US army quarantines the town affected and ultimately intends to bomb it to cover up the weapons plan. The virus is then found to be passed around by a monkey illegally brought to the US from Africa, and the movie starts to inch towards a happy end.
In reality, the US used biological warfare for the first time in 1763 when British officers at the besieged Fort Pitt attempted to infect Native Americans with smallpox by giving Delawares' representatives two blankets and a handkerchief from the smallpox ward "out of regard to them" after the Delawares pledged to renew their friendship. An epidemic swept through Ohio as a result, killing numbers of unsuspecting natives.
The US took to serious research into biological warfare in 1943 at the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. In 1945, following the defeat of the Kwantung Army, the US got hold of Gen. Shiro Ishii and his notorious Unit 731, a biological and chemical warfare research facility which tested its deadly inventions on Soviet prisoners of war and others at a site near Harbin. The war criminal was thus allowed to hide from the justice he deserved. Later, the Fort Detrick installation located in Frederick, Maryland, and run by the U.S. Army Medical Command, became the key center where the Pentagon polished its biological warfare capabilities. The same Shiro Ishii contributed seriously to its creation.
The US Army and the CIA cut a secret deal in May, 1952, obliging the Pentagon to share expertise in biological warfare with the spy agency and the latter – to assist in upgrading and testing the potential. It became clear from the US Army documents which eventually saw the light of day that in February, 1956 the US intelligence community and the Special Operations Division (SOD) quartered in Fort Detrick pulled off an experiment code-named "Operation Big City" aimed at studying the impact of biological warfare in real-life urban settings. Americans were exposed to harmful substances in the process without being notified of what was happening.
In 1955, the CIA conducted a secret bacteriological experiment in Florida, spreading pertussis germs from containers disguised as bags and suitcases, the outcome being a whole epidemic. In 1964-1965, Bacillus Subtilis, a substance from the biological warfare arsenal, was released in Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington at top-crowded locations like bus terminals and airports with the goal of exploring the patterns of disease spread across the US. Similar experiments involving smallpox were performed later, but the information on them came into the spotlight as a result of the 1975 Congressional probe. In 1970ies, the scope of biological warfare research in the US widened to include a Naval laboratory in Oakland, the Breeze Chemical Corp. with facilities in Pennsylvania, and a Pentagon laboratory near Baltimore.
Starting in the 1950ies, a large part of Fort Detrick's experimentation on humans unfolded in South Africa, at the Louis Trichard chemical research and development facility. It routinely emerged as the epicenter of cholera, typhoid, poliomyelitis, and bubonic plague outbreaks. Testing on humans also took place at the Oshakati concentration camp in north Namibia, where South Africa's military exposed prisoners of war to viruses. The US Army reportedly used biological warfare against the North Korean forces and Chinese volunteers during the Korean war, but its own servicemen were occasionally affected – around 3,000 US soldiers were killed by the hantavirus alone over the three years of the conflict.
US Defense Secretary and business executive Robert Strange McNamara is seen as the chief ideologist behind the US biological warfare programs, his staple being that the Earth is unable to sustain the high rates of population growth. University of California professor Antony Cyril Sutton claimed in his book “America’s Secret Establishment: An Introduction to the Order of Skull & Bones” that AIDS had been engineered in the US Army laboratories in the framework of a programmed backed financially by the US Congress, the objective being to implement the fanatical elite's dream to eliminate a large part of the global population. According to Sutton, the creation of the virus responsible for AIDS had been personally approved by McNamara. McNamara said in October, 1970 that the only two options to prevent the global population from reaching the 10 billion mark were to reduce the birth rate or to increase the mortality rate. It is explainable in this light why Africa and Haiti, two economically destitute regions, were the first to be hit by the AIDS epidemic.
In July, 1969, Dr. Donald MacArthur, a high-level Defense Department biological research administrator, told a group of US Congressmen that “within 5 to 10 years it would be possible to create a synthetic biological agent that would disable the human immune system”. A record of the hearings was published in the late 1980ies and carried shocking revelations about the development of artificial pathogens in secret laboratories.
The concept of trimming the world's population with the help of lethal viruses is still popular in the ranks of the “global elite” these days. From time to time, its members bluntly reissue statements to the effect that only around 500 million people on Earth should survive, hinting at what may await the unsuccessful others. No doubt, the policy is going to materialize in the form of armed conflicts, famine, and epidemic outbreaks. There are indications that the cultivation of novel viruses continues. Two groups of researchers – one led by Ron Fouchier in Amsterdam and the other – by Yoshihiro Kawaoka from the University of Wisconsin–Madison – had synthesizes brands of the bird flu virus capable of getting transmitted via droplet contact. The corresponding experiments being performed with rodents, the groups submitted papers to Science and Nature respectively, but the US National Security Board for Biosecurity asked the journals and the authors to refrain from having the research published. The board's head Paul Keim told the media that the potential of the H5N1 virus is too threatening to air the findings, says Reuters.
Keim warns that the lethality of the virus is around 50%, higher than in the case of the Spanish flu which took 40 million lives in 1918-1919. The board further stresses the peril that bioterrorists might attempt to gain access to the above two modifications of the bird flu virus. Normally, the creation of a vaccine is coupled to the cultivation of a virus as biological warfare, but Keim mentioned no vaccine in the context, likely because the treatment is not supposed to be available to commoners.
(To be continued)