Aug 5 2004
In a new twist to the 2001 anthrax attacks in the U.S., the Federal Bureau of Investigation is searching 2 homes in new York and New Jersey which may be related to the attacks.
The houses appear to belong to Dr. Kenneth Berry, 48, a bioterrorism expert and the man behind PREEMPT Medical Counter-Terrorism a company founded in 1997.
Dr. Berry is president of the American Academy of Emergency Physicians and a member of the board and special counsel to the chair of the Board of Certification in Emergency Medicine. He serves as director of emergency services at the Jones Memorial Hospital in Wellsville, NY. Berry is also a fellow of the American Academy of Family Practice, the American College of Forensic Medicine and the American College of Forensic Examiners.
Over 30 agents in protective suits, searched through the two homes.
The F.B.I has not provided any details about the investigation, other than to say that FBI and U.S. Postal Inspection Service agents were searching multiple locations in Wellsville and Dover Township, N.J.
The 2001 anthrax attacks occurred over several weeks in September and October 2001. Cases of anthrax due to bioterrorism broke out at various locations. Due to the fact that this immediately followed the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks there has been speculation of linkage between the two events. This was furthered by allegations that the "skin lesion" for which Ahmed al-Haznawi, one of the alleged September 11 hijackers, sought treatment at Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, was in fact caused by cutaneous anthrax.
There were numerous exposures, several infections (nineteen), and five fatalities. Thousands were tested. 10,000 people in the United States took a two-month course of antibiotics after possible exposure. Hundreds or thousands of unexposed persons acquired the antibiotic Cipro through their doctors or over the Internet. Later statistical analysis claims that approximately 5 deaths and 25 non-fatal cases of anthrax were prevented by prompt antibiotic use.
All of the anthrax spores in the mail were found to be of an identical strain. This strain is one that the U.S. military used for study at USAMRIID and distributed to other government and university labs as well as to other governments including United Kingdom. The FBI claims that they are concentrating on a domestic terrorist. They now believe that the anthrax attack was not related to the September 11th, 2001 attacks.
Anthrax toxin is comprised of three proteins: protective antigen (PA), lethal factor (LF), and edema factor (EF). To gain entry into host cells, PA must recognize a receptor on the surface of the target cell. Once PA has bound to the cell, it then enables EF and LF to bind and form a pore through which PA forces EF and LF into the cell in a syringe-like action.