We knew that this was going to happen. I believe that under the Homeland (IN)Security Agency Plum Island will now bypass the civilian oversight organization and upgrade to BSL 4. HSA will simply say that upgrading to BSL 4 is a matter of national defense and upgrade.
As people see with West Nile Virus, SARS, Chronic Wasting Disease and Mad Cow, and probably Monkeypox, once a pathogen makes its way into the environment, it is difficult if not IMPOSSIBLE, to purge. Do we really want or need Plum Island, with its history of accidents, strikes, power outages, and safety violations, to upgrade to BSL 4 and therefore work on pathogens, of foreign origin for which there are NO cures, No vaccines and jump species to humans? Among some of the pathogens will be Ebola, Nipah Virus, Hendra Virus, New Nipah LIKE Virus and many more.
It is very possible that Plum Island could also research SARS, as SARS is purported to be zoonotic, i.e. jumped from animal to human.
Again, does Plum Island with their history, which includes the present, i.e. continuing strike of essential workers, recent power outages, one of which lasted for 3 hours and included failure of ALL back up systems, followed by a one hour outage a week later, deserve to work on the world's deadliest pathogens just 70 miles from New York City, which is a hub for international and domestic travelers?
I have been very disappointed with Homeland Security Agency and think that there first agenda should have been equipping first responders with necessary BSL 4 and other equipment, as well as strengthening the hosptial infrastructure to manage and contain emerging infectious disease outbreaks, such as SARS. We saw first hand, during the SARS outbreak, that hospitals are woefully unequipped to manage infectious outbreaks. I think we need to strengthen the homeland medical infrastructure whch includes first responder protocol and equipment, first.
All of the BSL 4 labs will not do us one bit of good if we lose our first responders. If we lose much of our population because we have no isolation facilities to treat infectious patients and, as in the case of SARS, have only one choice, and that is QUARANTINE because hospitals could not manage cases without having personnel infected, a BSL 4 Plum Island and other Homeland Security Agenda, does not seem as important.
Priorities, we must put them in order.
"Homeland Security Department
Assumes Control of Plum Island Facility"
Global Security Newswire
"The U.S. Homeland Security Department announced last week that it would assume management of the Plum Island Animal Disease Center off Long Island, N.Y., which studies animal pathogens (see GSN, June 24, 2002). Homeland Security and the U.S. Agriculture Department, which currently manages the facility, have begun a joint management program to oversee a four-month transition period, according to a Homeland Security press release. Under the new management, Plum Island researchers will contribute their expertise to Homeland Security,s biological counterterrorism efforts, which includes the prevention of agricultural terrorism, the release said (see GSN, June 12)."