Skip to content
Sverdlovsk anthrax leakJoe Segen2016-12-25T00:54:34+00:00
Sverdlovsk anthrax leak
Definition A city* of the former Soviet Union that evoked international interest in 1979 for an anthrax epidemic, which the Soviets then attributed to bad meat.
*Renamed Yekaterinburg, located in the Urals. While cutaneous anthrax responds well to high-dose penicillin, if the spores are inhaled or ingested, mortality reaches 75%, making anthrax a theoretically ideal biological weapon. Of the unknown number of victims, no less than 105 died. The guilty strain, Anthrax 836, was the most potent in the Soviet arsenal. The official, pre-Glasnost Soviet explanation attributed the outbreak to tainted spore-infected meat sold by private butchers. Reinterpretation of the incident inculpate a leak in a military lab involved in testing and production of biological weapons prohibited by a treaty signed by the superpowers in 1975.
Synonym The biological Chernobyl
References Science 1988; 240:383