Confronting the Growing Threat of Biowarfare
By Ward Dean, MD
Recently we have all been made brutally aware of terrorism on our shores with the horrible tragedy of the aircraft hijacking and destruction of the World Trade Center and damage to the Pentagon. In the wake of these attacks public officials are raising concerns about other forms of potential terrorist attacks, including biological, chemical and nuclear threats. While not an expert in nuclear or chemical warfare, I have been concerned for some time with the growing likelihood that a biological attack might be the next major disaster to be sprung on the American population.
I first became acutely aware of the growing threat of international terrorism when I served as the Flight Surgeon for the Delta Force in the early 1980s (Fig. 1). My concern about the likelihood of a biological attack was amplified after reading the early draft of a book by microbiologist Larry Harris on preparing for biological defense. (1) In his book Harris described an encounter with the wife of an Iraqi general he met while taking a graduate course in microbiology. The Iraqi microbiologist revealed to Mr. Harris a plan for importing vials of a biological toxin into the US by Iraqi tourists. According to the plan these vials would be combined and disseminated in the US, causing a deliberate outbreak of anthrax or plague. The result of deploying one (or more) of these agents would rapidly overwhelm the medical system and exhaust the available supply of antibiotics, cause a great number of deaths, generate widespread panic, and destroy morale of the survivors. Harris solution for readers of his book was to purchase veterinary antibiotics without a prescription from veterinary supply houses.
Shortly after reading Harris book, I began to notice other telltale signs raising the possibility of a biological attack against America. First, was an obscure newspaper account buried in the inner pages of the newspaper that announced that a number of chemical-biological decontamination vehicles were being supplied to many major cities by the federal government, to counter the threat of domestic bio-terrorism. I almost laughed out loud as I read bloated claims of many thousands of people being decontaminated each hour by these miraculous vehicles. In my previous career as an Army Flight Surgeon I attended the Army’s course on Medical Aspects of Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Casualties, and participated in a number of exercises designed to test our decontamination procedures and capabilities. I know from experience that decontamination is a very slow, methodical, and labor-intensive task, and the vast numbers of persons the article claimed could be treated was grossly over-inflated.
Other indicators followed in rapid succession: The Journal of the American Medical Association (August 6th, 1997) devoted an entire issue to the subject; (2) the theme of the annual scientific meeting of the Association of Military Surgeons of the US in 1998 focused on chemical and biological warfare; and while attending a medical meeting in Alexandria, Virginia, I accidentally ventured into an adjacent meeting by an association devoted to non-governmental intelligence gathering sources (which are used by the government) and found a pile of expensively-produced, heavy slick paper, four color pamphlets to be given away for free, that had absolutely no attribution as to authorship or publisher. This had the clear fingerprint of a CIA or other alphabet agency publication.
Next, the prestigious Archives of Internal Medicine featured an article in its March, 1998, issue titled, Anthrax as a potential biological warfare agent. (3) Clearly, someone was either planning for or expecting a biological attack.
In mid-1998, it was reported in the AMA’s newspaper, American Medical News, (4) and the Army Times, (5) that the entire 2.4 million members of the U.S. Military — both active and reserve — would be immunized against anthrax. Clearly, the warnings that Larry Harris had made in his book regarding the possibility of a biological attack appeared to have some validity, and were being taken seriously by those in the highest levels — and the time for such an attack may be near.
As an Eagle Scout, I believe in the Boy Scout motto, Be Prepared. Larry Harris suggested that people prepare by stocking up on antibiotics to be used in case of an outbreak of anthrax, plague (Fig. 2), or other infectious weapons. Harris also suggested that those who did not have a cooperative physician who was willing to write prescriptions in advance for antibiotics could obtain them from a veterinary supply house.
When preparing for biowarfare I recommend Doxycycline — which was used to treat many victims of Gulf War Syndrome — as the antibiotic of choice. The usual dosage of doxycycline for routine infections is 100 mg twice daily for 10 days. For inhalation anthrax, which is a virulent, most often fatal disease, much higher doses will be needed. An example of the deadly nature of this condition was illustrated in a study conducted on Rhesus monkeys at the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, at Fort Detrick, MD. (6) Monkeys were exposed to a heads-only challenge of air-delivered anthrax spores. Beginning one day after exposure, the groups were treated with a number of modalities. Comparison of the controls with those treated with doxycycline is illustrated below.
|Control (untreated)||9 out of 10 died|
|Doxycycline||1 out of 10 died|
It is clear that without treatment, the chances of dying will be at least 90%. Also, the antibiotics worked surprisingly well, even when treatment was started a day after exposure.
The US Army Handbook on the Medical Aspects of NBC Defensive Operations recommends 200 mg doxycycline intravenously, followed by 100 mg every 12 hours. (7) Since oral doses provide lower blood levels than via the intravenous route, I would at least double this dosage. While this might be considered a heroic dose by many physicians, it must be emphasized that we are not dealing with bleeding hangnails here — inhalation of anthrax is a life-threatening illness, and heroic measures are warranted.
I strongly recommend the book, Bacteriological Warfare — A Major Threat to North America — What You and Your Family Can Do Before and After, by Larry Wayne Harris. I also recommend that everyone stock up on a supply of Doxycycline, adequate to treat every member of the family should the need arise. Although doxycycline, like the tetracyclines, can be toxic if used beyond its expiration date, there is an easy way to tell if the drug is still safe to use. Simply dissolve it in water. If it dissolves completely, and the water is clear, it is safe to use. If there is a precipitate, or the water becomes discolored, the drug is no longer safe to use.
Culturelle (LGG) Probiotic
While many antibiotics are effective at killing pathogens, they also destroy friendly gut microflora that play a vital role in human health and perform important metabolic functions that support the digestive system. Lactobacillus GG is a specialized strain of lactic acid bacteria that is clinically proven to aid in normalizing gut functions while reducing diarrhea, abdominal pain, and nausea associated with use of powerful antibiotics. (15)
MSP Silver Liquid
For those who do not have access to prescription or veterinary antibiotics, or who want to potentially add to the effectiveness of the antibiotics, Mild Silver Protein (MSP) should be considered. MSP has a long history of safe use in a multitude of serious infectious illnesses.
Silver, in both liquid solution and as an airborne-aerosol, has been known since 1887 to be extremely toxic to Anthrax spores. (8-11) It is widely reported in the medical literature that various forms of Ag, often at surprisingly low concentrations, routinely kill germs that are known to be antibiotic-resistant. (11-14) There are no known pathogens which have demonstrated resistance to this remarkable antimicrobial substance. Although there is not a clearly-defined dosage for MSP for such purposes, it would be prudent to err on the high side with MSP, in view of its overwhelming margin of safety.
1. Harris, Larry Wayne. Bacteriological Warfare — A Major Threat to North America. What You and Your Family Can Do Before and After. Virtue International Publishing, 1825 South Franklin Road, Indianapolis, Indiana 46239 (800-984-7883).
2. J American Medical Association, August 6, 1997, Vol 278, No. 5.
3. Pile, James C., Malone, John D., Eitzen, Edward M., and Friedlander, Arthur M. Anthrax as a potential biological warfare agent. Arch Intern Med, 158: March 9, 1998, 429-434.
4. Mulholland, David. Chem-bio attack fears drive new market, Army Times, May 11, 1998, p. 32.
5. Stapleton, Stephanie. Immunizing against biowarfare threat. American Medical News, 41: 23, June 15/22, 1998, pp. 1, 72.
6. Friedlander, Arthur M., Postexposure Prophylaxis against Experimental Inhalation Anthrax . J Infect Dis, 1993; 167:1239-42.
7. U.S. Army Handbook on the Medical Aspects of NBC Defensive Operations, U.S. Govt Printing Office, 1996.
8. H. Bechhold. Colloids in Biology and Medicine, N.Y.: D. van Nostrand, 1919, pp. 364-76.
9. D. Long, and S. Spencer Jones. Bioterrorism: Secrets for Surviving the Coming Terrorist Germ Warfare Attacks on US Cities, Barstow, CA: Life & Health Research Group, 1998.
10. N. Grier. Silver and Its Compounds, in Disinfection, Sterilization and Preservation, 1983, S. Block, ed., Philadelphia: Lea & Febiger, 380-428.
11. I. Romans. Silver Compounds and Oligodynamic Metals in Antiseptics, Disinfectants, Fungicides and Chemical and Physical Sterilization, 1954, G. Reddish, ed., Philadelphia: Lea & Febiger, 380-428.
12. J. Powell. Our Mightiest Germ Fighter, Sci. Digest, 1978, Mar., 57-60.
13. T. Berger et al. Electrically Generated Silver Ions: Quantitative Effects on Bacterial and Mammalian Cells, Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 1976, 9, 357-58.
14. T. Berger et al. Antifungal Properties of Electrically Generated Silver Ions, Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 1976, 10, 856-60.
15. Isolauri E, Juntunen M, Rautanen T, Sillanaukee P, Koivula T. A human Lactobacillus strain (Lactobacillus casei sp strain GG) promotes recovery from acute diarrhea in children. Pediatrics 1991;88:90-7.