Blood-thieving bandits mistakenly steal samples infected with Ebola


#1

[Permalink]


#2

What could possibly go wrong?


#3

This brings to mind the theft of that radioactive material stolen in Mexico last December, and the Goiânia accident 27 years ago. Combine poverty and lack of education and you get these sorts of events: people who steal anything that looks valuable. They might not be stupid, but they literally don’t know that these things that look so well protected are not protected because of their inherent value, but because of their extreme degree of innate hazard. The defenses aren’t there to keep them away from it, but to keep it away from them!


#4

Handed off to a minibus taxi driver? Is “taxi” a broad term that includes armored cars, ambulances and whatnot, or did they actually throw ebola into a yellow cab?


#5

We need to hope they didn’t know what they were after. If this is an intentional grab of a biological weapon things could be tragic beyond words.


#6

I’m guessing that it’s probably not exactly difficult to get samples of Ebola in certain areas of West Africa nowadays without pulling a heist.


#7

Yeah. All your really need to pull is a shist if you wanna get a pretty decent amount of infected material.


#8

Terrorists!


#9

Thus displaying (both you and the hypothetical terrorists) a complete lack of understanding of biology and ebola in particular.


#10

Though, they should just SAY they were doing it deliberately, then the US counter-terrorism force will do the work of finding them.

Of course, the country might get invaded as a result.


#11

A problem that is also felt in determining how the contemporary world might dispose of nuclear waste that will be deadly for eons to come.


#12

Yep. I remember reading an article a few years back about the inherent difficulty of making nuclear disposal sites safe for thousands of years, and how to keep out low tech looters without just encouraging them.


#13

Is there some sort of active market for blood of dubious provenance, even in non-ebola conditions? Even if your standards for infection control are appallingly low, you still need to store it properly and classify it by type(unless making plasma only products), which would seem to make anything other than stealing already processed donor blood from medical facilities or just extracting it from the cheap end of the paid donor pool unviable.


#14

Blood is ALWAYS in high demand. The people who get off on needles are also nearly always ineligible for blood donation (I’m not trying to malign drug addicts, just trying to make a point with “humor” (rimshot)), leaving just the poor saps who feel it’s their humanitarian duty, and those obsessed with sugar cookies.

Blood is very valuable, as blood suitable for transfusion is very rare, especially in developing economies. Even in a country as rich and powerful as the USA, there is always a horrible shortage of transfusion suitable blood. In fact the shortage is so bad that we’re working on inventing blood substitues since blood is so expensive and in demand.

In addition, I’d expect (but absolutely don’t know, so correct me if I’m wrong here) there’s a very low level of general education among the populace of these impoverished countries about the fatal risk of transfusing improperly matched blood types. I mean, if you have a 6th grade education, it’s likely that you view all human blood as fungible.

But I think probably what’s more likely is that the equipment and precautions taken with these specific blood samples just make it look valuable without needing any information pertaining to the payload of the containment system. I’d expect that’s why the taxi got knocked over. Not because the thieves knew what they were going for, but instead because they saw the precautions taken, and security around the transfer as indicating a high value for the payload.


#15

Apparently a considerable number of people believe that aid workers are responsible for intentionally spreading Ebola. This conspiracy theory has led to avoidance of testing and treatment; it’s possible that this blood was stolen not for resale but for disposal, as a humanitarian effort.


#16

This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.