This seemingly innocuous worm like culture (as it appears under an electron microscope) is one of the most deadly known to mankind.
It has killed in the past and will kill again in a renewed surge of the deadly bacteria.
So what exactly is this deadly killer?
Well before we go into detail about our little worm like killer,let’s take a trip to the Afghan-Pakistani border region.
This region has long been awash in opium, which is grown in Afghanistan and then generally smuggled west to the Balkans, via Iran and Turkey, or shipped out of the port of Karachi to the Gulf States and Africa.
The trade boomed during the Eighties, when both the CIA and the Pakistani government were happy to turn a blind eye to the drug operations of the mujahedeen fighters in Afghanistan, since it helped fund the war against the invading Soviet Union.
After the Soviets left, the drugs remained, and since then opium production in Afghanistan has increased fourteen-fold, from around 500 tons in the mid-1980s to 6,900 tons this year.
Recent counternarcotics efforts have dramatically reduced cultivation in the north and east of the country, and so both cultivation and trafficking have shifted to the south, where security is most tenuous.
Transportation of both the Opium in its natural state or that of its more deadly synthesised cousin Heroin (Heroin - diacetylmorphine or morphine diacetate also known as diamorphine, is an opiate analgesic synthesized by C.R Alder Wright in 1874 by adding two acetyl groups to the molecule morphine, a derivative of the opium poppy) is a long and tested route. Unfortunately due to the very nature of the illegal drug before it makes its way onto British soil it has been through many processes, packaged many times and carried by many forms of transport.
As if this toxic substance is not dangerous enough it is during its long expedition that this illicit drug meets up with our ‘Killer.’
You see our ‘Killer’ commonly affects hoofed animals such as sheep, cattle, and goats and it is likely that the early part of our illicit drugs life is either carried by or comes into contact with those infected animals.
There are three main ways of infection Cuts, Breathing in the spores or ingestion. Either way the symptoms can quickly escalate to death.
The type of bacteria is called Bacillus anthraces. Infection in humans most often involves the skin, gastrointestinal tract, or lungs.
Anthrax as it is more commonly known is well known to Governments all over the World. It has been cited many times as a terrorist weapon of mass destruction. I’m sure that we have all heard of these statements and they are not to be underestimated.
However, what most of you will not know is that in 2008 – 2010 a National alert was sounded involving this deadly spore.
Pakistani couriers, using their international contacts, had flooded the British drugs market with heavily cut, cheap, Heroin Opiate.
Once it reached the Network of Pakistani street Dealers there was no stopping it. The complete batch estimated to be in the range of 50 kilo’s had been infected.
Issuing from the Northern areas of Manchester, Rochdale, Bradford and Leeds the consignment was quickly split and the majority of the infected batch was taken over the border and into the very heart of Scotland.
208 cases were reported.
Considering how the bacteria is spread and the almost hysterical warnings sounded out by noted leaders it appears that this time around we were very lucky.