Telling Disease From Terror

In a nation already buzzing on hyperalert, almost any outbreak of an unusual malady was sure to raise the specter of a bioterrorist attack (see story below). Last week there were two such reports: an anthrax death in Florida and a cluster of cases of a virulent hemorrhagic fever along the Afghan-Pakistani border. Easy to forget but worth remembering is the fact that bacteria and viruses, even unconventional ones, do occasionally sweep through human hosts.

The bacteria responsible for anthrax, for one, nestle in soil and animals for years, sometimes even decades. Over the past century, 18 Americans have fatally inhaled...

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