Lab 257: The Disturbing Story of the Government's Secret Plum Island Germ Laboratory

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9780060011413: Lab 257: The Disturbing Story of the Government's Secret Plum Island Germ Laboratory
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That the United States government engaged in dangerous biological research during World War II will come as no surprise to Americans jaded by revelations of secret medical experiments and radiation exposures. But that the accident-plagued facility where it happened--and continues to happen--is just off the coast of Long Island may alarm many readers of Michael Christopher Carroll's Lab 257. Carroll, an attorney by trade, gamely takes on complex microbiology and shady government record-keeping in telling the story of Plum Island, home of the Animal Disease Center--no place for a casual picnic.

The lab, initially set up by the army to research ways of destroying Soviet farm animals (and to keep the Soviets from destroying US animals), has often dealt with bacteria and viruses that can be passed from animals to humans. Carroll draws compelling causal links between Plum Island and the introduction of Lyme disease, West Nile virus and duck enteritis--all non-native germs that wreaked sudden havoc in north America, and all germs that Plum Island scientists were allegedly working with. With hurricanes and terrorists on his mind, Carroll asks readers to imagine a scenario in which the Plum Island lab might release pathogens into the most densely populated area in the country. He ends with two chilling questions: first, does the United States need a research facility that investigates animal pathogens with potential for human transmission? Second, considering that Plum Island never had a particularly good safety record, is it the right place for such a facility? Lab 257, while occasionally veering into unsupported speculation, introduces key questions to the debate on biological security in the 21st century. --Therese Littleton, Amazon.com

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