By Larry Daley

Given that panic is dangerous but public ignorance is even more deadly, it is essential that public health organizations be ready deal with antibiotic resistant anthrax.

It has been known for at least 50 years that bacteria can be readily mutated (transformed). Transforming a given bacteria or bacterial strain from susceptible to resistant to a given antibiotic is relatively simple. One can be sure that the evil perpetrators of the present spread of the diseases know this.

Yet, apparently this is not known to the general public. For instance although coverage of the terrorist disemination of this disease is now very wide spread in the media, this dangerous aspect is not mentioned Relying on one antibiotic is so very riskly stocks of other effective antianthrax agents must be kept ready.

The methods to do this are very well known among bacteriologist and those working with bacterial DNA, Any upto date university freshman biology text describes it, and any bacteriology or bioengineering text gives a more precise description. This is because such transformation was the first real evidence that DNA was the genetic code for life.

Conceptually at least any bacteriologist or similar professional could with a deathwish and simple equipment "make" an antibiotic resistant anthrax during the time of incubation of the disease.

Certainly it could be done with much less risk in a more sophisticated environment such as is known to exist (as do biowar strains of anthrax), in the laboratories at least some nations, such as Iraq, Cuba and perhaps Iran, whose governments are on the State Department Terror list.

One would not expect Sadaam Hussein to respond to anything less than a bombing strike, However, it would not be irrational to exert the heaviest diplomatic pressure and insist that both Castro and the government of Iran -who have condemned the recent horrible terror-- to open up their laboratories to repeated and open inspection. This action might do much to assure in as much as this is possible, that these laboratories are not used to this end.

Larry Daley
Corvallis, OR.

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