Saturday, December 13, 2008

Who is Responsible for Zimbabwe's Current Anthrax and Cholera Epidemics?

Zimbabwe media are reporting that Zimbabwe government officials are blaming British operatives during the liberation struggle--and today--for cholera and anthrax epidemics currently affecting the country:
"Dr Ndlovu quoted a research by Tom Mangold, a researcher in Warfare and Jeff Goldberg, an investigative journalist based in Washington DC, who made the stunning revelations that the British operatives during the liberation struggle planted some anthrax and cholera bacterium to wipe away black Zimbabweans and their herds of cattle.

The minister also said the rains are activating the bacterium and there are some operatives currently in the country who are working on planting the epidemics.

Mangold and Goldberg's 1999 book Plague Wars (you can read the entire book if you click on it) recounted my research on Zimbabwe's anthrax epidemic in chapter 22, and discussed the use of other chem/bio agents during the liberation struggle.

I'd like to make clear that the current cholera outbreak is the result of Zimbabwe's failure to provide safe water to its citizens, and is not a form of biological warfare perpetrated from outside. Adding small amounts of bleach to water would prevent this epidemic--that is, if there were adequate water available. Cholera bacteria spread from infected stools. The bacteria produce a toxin that forces huge amounts of water out of the body in the stool. It is the dehydration which kills. If you could provide sufficient fluid to patients using oral rehydration fluids or intravenous fluids, no one would die.

In the 1990 cholera epidemic in Latin America, the death rate was 1% or less as a result of this treatment, which ought to be cheap and available. (The antibiotics used to kill the bacteria are also inexpensive.)

Zimbabwe's lack of clean water, the lack of toilet facilities, the lack of available health care produced this cholera epidemic, not foreign operatives.

As for the current anthrax outbreak, that is different. It is the result of anthrax spores spread
between 1978 and 1980 by unknown operatives working to prevent majority rule. The spores remain in the soil, causing unpredictable outbreaks in grazing animals for decades or longer, in areas where the soil supports regrowth of spores during special weather conditions.

Cholera was used to contaminate some rivers in the 1970s, but did not spread widely in Zimbabwe because clean water and medical facilities were available then, and it was rapidly diluted.

No comments: