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African Pathogens Must Be Secured, Lugar Says

April 15, 2011 Comments off

globalsecuritynewswire

A senior U.S. senator highlighted the need to protect deadly pathogen samples housed in African laboratories from hostile actors who might seek to deploy them in a biological attack, Chemical & Engineering News reported on Monday (see GSN, Nov., 23, 2010).

During the Cold War, the former Soviet Union conducted research into the biowarfare uses of African-origin disease agents. While Russia has since shuttered that biological weapons effort, a number of those naturally occurring pathogens are sill being studied in facilities throughout Africa that often have limited defenses.

“Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups are active in Africa, and it is imperative that deadly pathogens stored in labs there are secure. This is a threat we cannot ignore,” said Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), a co-creator of the U.S. Cooperative Threat Reduction initiative.

Lugar and a delegation of U.S. defense officials traveled last fall to Uganda and Kenya to assess security at biological research facilities that stored such deadly agents as Ebola and anthrax. While biodefense laboratories in the United States that work with similarly dangerous pathogens have advanced security measures in place, defenses at the African research institutes were more likely to consist of barbed wire, according to the magazine.

At a laboratory in Uganda’s capital, the U.S. delegation observed significant security vulnerabilities including a failure to track Read more…