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May 12, 2004

The Hot Zone

Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic Fever has broken out in Qila Saifullah, Pakistan. As the disease is endemic in Pakistan, the coverage given the story is vanishingly small, even though CCHF is related to Ebola, Marburg, and the other deadly hemorrhagic fevers. CCHF just isn't sexy enough a disease, apparently.

But the newsies have missed a trick. Qila Saifullah is a Taliban stronghold.

Western and Afghan intelligence officials in Kandahar believe that before winter sets in, the Taliban plan to send up to 2,500 fighters in small groups into Kandahar province from the Pakistani border crossing at Chaman, into Zabul province from Qila Saifullah and Loralai and into Paktika province from Zhob -- all towns north of Quetta.

Pakistani officials deny this, of course.

Meanwhile Nawabzada Hasan Khan Jogezai, nazim of Qila Saifullah, denied reports that the crimes branch police had recovered a huge cache of weapons from his district. Not a single bullet has been recovered, he added. When asked about the reason of such reports, the nazim said that it could be a way to start a military operation in the area. He said his administration would support such an operation.

So..."There are no weapons here! Neither are there any Taliban! Rumors of such weapons and fighters are lies spread by the government so that they can bring in the soldiers! I fully support the government in this action to remove the wholly imaginary fighters and weapons!"

Yea, that makes sense.

Despite the fact that we know the Taliban and al-Qaeda conducted chemical and biowarfare when they were in power, this was probably a natural outbreak of CCHF, not a biolab breakout. Admittedly, some won't see it as such, though their suspicions about the origin of the outbreak won't tend towards blaming terrorists.

Still, when a level 4 disease outbreak occurs in an area known shelter those dedicated to the overthrow of the West, some attention should be paid, if only to thoroughly identify the victims.

Who knows? Maybe Osama ends up being one of them.

Posted by Bigwig at May 12, 2004 02:41 PM | TrackBack
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Comments

Quibble: CCHF is a Level 3 agent, I think.

Nevertheless, good point. Kind of like the 1979 Sverdlovsk anthrax outbreak; in retrospect it was obviously due to a biowarfare agent leak.

But then, as now, there was no shortage of persons in the West who were eager to explain it away.

Posted by: Captain Holly at May 12, 2004 05:21 PM

I don't follow these type of outbreak stories very closely, but, correct me if I'm wrong, isn't there customarily a massive mobilization by the WHO and the CDC whenever ANY hemorrhagic fever surfaces? It would seem to me that we should soon be expecting some C-130s to be heading toward the primitive boondocks of Pakistan.

Posted by: Interested-Participant at May 13, 2004 06:03 PM
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