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Australia's First Bioterrorism Attack

Now, I never condone biological warfare. It's bad ju ju and I am morally opposed to it, especially as a microbiologist. That being said however...

I find the 'attack' on the Indonesian embassy kind of amusing, in a black humour kind of way. I mean, really, I just know how sensationalised this event is going to be, and how much work is is practically going to guarantee me and people like me in the future... and it's all due to that silly girl (silly for getting caught or silly for going about the trial the way she did) Schappelle oh-what-an-odd-name-I-have Corby.

I'm not too fussed about the incident itself because, quite frankly, I'm pretty sure that the "Bacillus-type bacteral powder" is going to turn out to not be anthrax. And even if it were anthrax, the chances of it making anyone ill are pretty darn slim, particularly because I'm sure anyone who came in contact with it is already on antibiotics and thus, largely, completely protected from disease.

I mean, really, Bacillus is so dull, old-school, and really not as scary as people make out. And none-too-hard to grow, either. Cook some brown rice, then leave it in a warm place for a few days. Boom - you have yourself some Bacillus which can make people very, very sick (if they eat it). Welcome to the world of bioterrorism.

This is what people don't seem to understand. Bacteria cover everything. EVERYTHING. That whole thing about washing your hands ater you go to the bathroom? Within a couple of hours your hands are going to be covered with bacteria from your unmentionables anyway, because unless you autoclaved your hands (not advisable), you're going to leave viable bacteria/spores behind which will just grow back. Did you know that one of the nastiest lower-respiratory tract disease causing bugs is found naturally in the nose?

I mean, these people (who ever they are) aren't even *trying*. That and they have doomed the little miss Corby to certain further imprisonment - no government these days buckles under such petty threats. And what is more petty that a Bacillus?! (Well, maybe E. coli, I suppose...) For the love of Koch, Australia is host to one of the most unpleasant non-heamorrhagic visuses I have ever heard of from a readily easily-accessable source - much easier than growing enough Bacillus spores to make a frightening amount of 'white powder of biological origin'.

I am full of contempt for the entire situation. Although, I tip my hat to the emergency responce teams; they seem to have done an excellent job.


Jun. 2nd, 2005 03:03 am (UTC)
I guess the point I failed to make here is that my choice of agent/GMO would depend on if I wanted a tool for bioterrorism or a genuine bioweapon.
Jun. 2nd, 2005 03:06 am (UTC)
And thanks! Your post was thought-provoking in the extreme, and I'd forgotten how much fun it is to hypothesize on things like this! I'm surrounded by synthetic chemists and physicists so I don't get to exercise the biological half of my brain much :)
Jun. 2nd, 2005 03:09 am (UTC)
....not that the other half is cybernetic or anything...
Jun. 2nd, 2005 07:39 am (UTC)
and you expect us to believe it isn't, after the number of replies you made to your own comment?

Someone hand me the EMP-gun - we've got another pesky cyborg infestation *grin*
Jun. 2nd, 2005 11:01 pm (UTC)
Hah! EMP will do you no good.

I wrap my head in aluminium foil!
Jun. 2nd, 2005 11:16 pm (UTC)
Oh no! Foiled again!
Jun. 2nd, 2005 11:30 pm (UTC)
Jun. 3rd, 2005 01:52 am (UTC)
no complaining - you walked right into that one ;)
Jun. 3rd, 2005 01:54 am (UTC)
I may have, but at least my cybernetic brain is less susceptible to damage.
Jun. 3rd, 2005 02:03 am (UTC)
but only until a few days after the warranty runs out
Jun. 3rd, 2005 02:19 am (UTC)
I knew I shouldn't have got an iPod Mini installed...
Jun. 2nd, 2005 06:07 am (UTC)
I remember being very upset when they developed a urine test to detect Legionella. Up to that point my plans to eradicate smokers from the planet had been based on the fact that Legionella could only be diagnosed with a chest x-ray to find the scar tissue in the lungs and smokers have so much scarring in the lungs that Legionella was effectively undetectable until it was too late.

Not that I put that much thought into this plan of course.
Jun. 2nd, 2005 06:36 am (UTC)
Of course you didn't.

Infected filters? Saliva rehydrates spores which are then inhaled?
Jun. 2nd, 2005 10:09 pm (UTC)
Something like that. I think my original plan called for introducing an inhibitor that prevented the legionella from reproducing until it was exposed to a concentrated amount of nicotine in the host.