Q Fever! Medical Humor & Satire

October 10, 2001 | Volume 2, Issue 8

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Rhinovirus In Wrong Hands?

Sources suggest terrorists may have access

ATLANTA, GA--Sources at the Centers for Disease Control say that terrorist may have access to large quantities of rhinovirus, which causes sneezing and runny nose in humans.

Authorities there say they received a tape recording late Wednesday afternoon on which an unidentified individual is heard warning that "all Americans shall know the trouble that we have known... let their noses run and feel our wrath."

Rhinovirus may be in
wrong hands, say authorities

Background noises on the tape reportedly include the spinning of centrifuges and a voice saying "Microbiology, can I help you?".

Why terrorists would bother experimenting with the virus at all is not clear. Experts speculate that the ability of the early stages of rhinovirus infection to mimic those of the common cold may make it attractive as a bioweapon, though this aspect is somewhat limited by the fact that middle and late stages of infection are also the same.

In fact, the effects on humans, while annoying, are rarely lethal.

But others point out that it may represent the longest ongoing terrorist scheme of all time. "Rhinovirus has plagued us since antiquity," says Dr. Mervis Blane of the CDC.

"When you think of the misery that we've endured from this plague, and the occasional sinusitis caused by this member of the picornavirus family, well, it may be the biggest battle we've ever faced."

Most, however, think that rhinovirus is simply a naturally occurring nuisance, and see no cause for alarm. "Let 'em use it if they got it," says Ret. Army Sgt. James Bullock of Spokane, WA. "We might become a nation of snifflin', sneezin', coughin', achin', stuffy head, fever so we can't rest fools, but dammit, we'll still be Americans."

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