Mice Infected With Bubonic Plague Missing


Three mice infected with the bacteria responsible for bubonic plague apparently disappeared from a laboratory about two weeks ago, and authorities launched a search though health experts said there was scant public risk.

The mice were unaccounted-for at the Public Health Research Institute, which is on the campus of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and conducts bioterrorism research for the federal government.

Federal official said the mice may never be accounted for. Among other things, the rodents may have been stolen, eaten by other lab animals or just misplaced in a paperwork error.

If the mice got outside the lab, they would have already died from the disease, state Health Commissioner Fred Jacobs said.

The possibility of theft prompted the institute to interrogate two dozen of its employees and conduct lie detector tests, The Star-Ledger of Newark reported Thursday.

The FBI said it was investigating. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is also investigating, the newspaper reported.

University officials did not immediately return a call seeking comment Thursday morning.

The mice were injected as part of an inoculation and vaccination experiment, investigators said.

Health officials say 10 to 20 people in the United States contract plague each year, usually through infected fleas or rodents. It can be treated with antibiotics, but about one in seven U.S. cases is fatal. Bubonic plague is not contagious, but left untreated it can transform into pneumonic plague, which can be spread from person to person.

The incident came as federal authorities investigate possible corruption in the school's finances. The FBI is reviewing political donations and millions of dollars in no-bid contracts awarded to politically connected firms.


On the Net:

Institute: www.phri.org (external - login to view)
European Plague Outbreak

In October 1347, a fleet of Genoese trading ships fleeing Kaffa reached the port of Messina. By the time the fleet reached Messina, all the crew members were either infected or dead. It is presumed that the ships also carried infected rats and/or fleas. Some ships were found grounded on shorelines, with no one aboard remaining alive. Looting of these lost ships also helped spread the disease. From there, the plague spread to Genoa and Venice by the turn of 1347/1348.

From Italy the disease spread northwest across Europe, striking France, Spain, Portugal, and Great Britain by June 1348, then turned and spread east through Germany and Scandinavia from 1348 to 1350, and finally to north-western Russia in 1351. The plague largely spared some parts of Europe, including the Kingdom of Poland and parts of Belgium and the Netherlands.

Let's hope they keep track of their mice.
Momsy why don't we just jump off a bridge right now :P lets do some fishin first tho :P
Reverend Blair
As long as it remains bubonic and does not transition to pneumonic, the plague really poses very little danger to us. It spread in Europe due to rats being everywhere and peoples' poor hygiene at the time. We have far fewer rats and flea bites are relatively uncommon now that most of us wash daily.

All it takes is for it become pneumonic in one or two people though, and that scenario changes. One person with the pneumonic version in a classroom or office and it can spread very quickly.

The other danger is that these mice were being used for weapons (or anti-weapons) testing. That could mean that it is a GM version of the plague, although that is doubtful in this particular case because officials are rather unconcerned.

What happens next time though, when it is a GM version?

The other danger is that these mice were being used for weapons (or anti-weapons)

Hold still you dirty rat or I'll blast you with this bubonic mouse!!!!!!

LOLOLOLOL. Yeah I know. It's now going down like that. And it's a good thing. James Cagney is rolling over in his grave as I type this.
Reverend Blair

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