YERSINIA PESTIS: THE NEW THREAT?
Por Manuel Cereijo
Traditionally spread by fleas and rodents, it has been responsible for some of the most lethal pandemics in history. The last major pandemic began in China in 1894 and lasted for 15 years, spreading over several countries, and large cities, like San Francisco and Bombay. Twelve million people died. Twenty six million people were infested.
A single bite from an infected flea can disgorge as many as twenty-four thousand plague cells into the blood or lymphatic system. After a period of incubation lasting between one and eight days, victim will begin to suffer chills and fever. If it is not treated quickly-and diagnosed accurately- the plague bacteria will ravage the body's internal organs, resulting in shock, delirium, organ failure, and death.
The United States tried to develop a plague weapon but found that its virulence deteriorated quickly. The bacteria lost violence in less than 30 minutes, and therefore aerosols were useless. However, the former Soviet Union continued its research and Soviet engineers and scientists developed a plague weapon capable of surviving in an aerosol while maintaining its killing capacity. It is believed that Russia maintains a quota of twenty tons of plague in their arsenals every year.
Scientists at Obolensk, Russia successfully transferred the gene for myelin to Yersinia pestis. This is most effective because it is a combination of toxin-bacteria. The combination-toxin/bacteria-has been the work of extensive research at Iraq and Cuba biotechnology centers.