Birds of Plum Island
by Lizzie Bennett: Ten
Unconventional Additions to Your Emergency Medical Kit
First a bit of history.....
is situated off the North East coast of Long Island in New York
has an area of some 830 acres. It was allocated to the US Department
of Agriculture in 1954 for the establishment of a research centre
to study foot and mouth disease in cattle.
In 1994 dead
bird specimens were found outside, open to air at the facility and
in 1995 the Department of Agriculture was fined $111,000 for storing
hazardous chemicals in an insecure fashion at the facility.
In 2000 an
application was made to upgrade the facility into a bio safety level
4 centre studying human as well as animal diseases but persistent
activism against this plan saw the Congress backtrack and the application
Having an annual
budget of more than $16,000,000 ostensibly to study foot and mouth
disease, it was decided in late 2002 to transfer the facility from
the Department of Agriculture to the Department of Homeland Security.
has its own fire department, water treatment plant, power plant
and security and access to the island is limited to a government
two ferryboat stations, one at Orient Point on Long Island and the
other at Old Saybrook Connecticut.
As an animal
disease research centre any wild animals on the island are shot
on sight, birds however are not. Not only are they tolerated, they
are encouraged, indeed the Audubon Society has declared the island
as an important bird area, and as such Osprey nests have been provided
there. Bluebird boxes and kestrel houses have also been provided.
The centre is listed as studying more than 40 foreign animal diseases
including those requiring level 3 bio safety status. Their freezers
hold samples of zoonotic diseases, diseases that can be past from
animals to humans.
A book, Lab
257 by Michael C. Carroll phD, has alleged that three infectious
disease outbreaks originated on the island. Duck plague in 1967,
Lyme Disease in 1975 ....Lyme is actually an area in Connecticut
local to Old Saybrook ferry terminal, and West Nile Virus in 1999.
The allegations have been vehemently denied by the government.
like the ones being encouraged to nest on Plum Island are known
vectors of zoonotic diseases. The most serious ones are:
( bubonic plague)
West Nile Virus
Lyme Disease ( yes from birds)
Eastern Equine Encephalitis (ditto)
Avian flu H5N1
New Castle Disease
So, this facility,
run by the Department of Homeland Security, a facility that has
flouted the rules so blatantly in the past that Hilary Clinton recommended
that Congress look at what goes on there, is storing and working
with zoonotic diseases whilst at the same time encouraging birds
that can carry numerous zoonotic diseases to congregate at the site.
Birds that can fly hundreds or even thousands of miles, birds that
often show no signs of the disease they are carrying. That's sounds
more interesting is that the government looked at the possibility
of selling the island as a means of helping reduce the US national
debt. The value of the island was estimated to be in the region
of $80,000,000 - $150,000,000. On looking closely at the plan it
was decided that the CLEAN UP costs would be so high that selling
the island would raise barely any money at all and the idea was
scrapped in February 2012.
If a facility
is run well, with the guidelines adhered to diligently what in Gods
name could possibly cost more than $80,000,000 to clean up?
from Medically Speaking.