Almost Done Circumventing (Bio-Attacks and Lithuania)

Here is an explanation of why I’m posting a class paper here. Basically, I’m circumventing ethically. This is an imaginary brief for the Lithuanian Secretary of State from his health security adviser. Enjoy!

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This work is in the Public Domain.

Jessica Dickinson Goodman
Dr Barth
14 April 2010
Memo to Secretary of State of Lithuania on Biological Threats

Natural Pandemic:
Tickborne encephalitis is our most dangerous, endemic infectious disease and could become a northern European pandemic if urban trees stayed leafier for longer during a prolonged heat-wave. Tickborne encephalitis can be prevented through vaccination, but once contracted it is incurable and causes permanent brain-damage in 10-20% of its victims (1). It is spread by infected ticks, though it also resides in small vermin such as mice or rats. Given that over 67% of our population is urban and the natural habitat of the ticks which spread tickborne encephalitis is arboreal, a significant increase in grass and tree foliage in the capital could infect a large percentage of our population (2) . If Tickborne encephalitis were to become to Vilnius what West Nile became to New York in 1999 (3) , we could loose the investment from the European Union we have worked so hard to encourage (4).

In this scenario, it is September 2010 and the temperatures have been holding around 35C, our historical peak for July (5) . The foliage in Vilnius has not fallen as it usually would and so ticks, some carrying encephalitis, have been breeding explosively. The first cluster of victims is a nursery school class who picnicked in Lukiškių aikštė under the trees (6). After a week of flu-like symptoms, nearly a third of are now paralyzed (7). After searching for environmental causes in the children’s playroom in the church and their homes, our disease control office searches the city park and finds a tick carrying a new, and apparently virulent, strain of tickborne encephalitis. In the month of September, nearly 200 people have become infected, spreading across the European continent on livestock. While the first snowfall finally forces the diseased ticks into hibernation, global warming ensures that the treat will return in Summer 2011. Vilnius is now known as a source of tickborne encephalitis, and the summer tourism has plummeted.

Because of our relative size and relatively good diplomatic relations with our neighbors we are not a likely target for traditional forms of biological attack. However, politically motivated bioterrorism by non-state actors is a potential threat. Using a novel distribution mechanism—Lithuanian sex trafficking survivors from Russia—our medical infrastructure could be severely taxed by a sudden outbreak of H5N1.

In this scenario, 30 of the approximately 110 survivors of sex trafficking we expect to be repatriated in 2010 will be from Russia in a gesture of goodwill. As of 2009, the United States Department of State places Russia in Tier 3 (the lowest tier) of their Trafficking in Persons Report rankings (we are in Tier 1) (8). Their mafia also has a history of politically motivated terrorism (9). In a reprisal for the removal of a Russian statue, the 30 survivors returned in 2010 will have been infected by their Russian mafia abductors with a refined strain of H5N1 they obtained from Russia’s continuing covert bioweapons research program (10). These women, as victims of systematic sexual abuse and apparent symbols of a Russian good will, would not be put through the same medical examinations upon reentry to Lithuania. Therefore, in a week of media events documenting their return, they would come in contact with thousands of reporters and politicians, spreading the refined strain of H5N1 significantly before it was detected. With thousands of people infected with a debilitating and sometimes fatal strain of H5N1, our hospitals would be taxed significantly. Additionally, our campaign to attract EU investors would be undermined, furthering the Russian mafia’s political goals. Finally the outbreak would be controlled at a large economic cost with government-sponsored sick-leave and voluntary quarantining. Of the 30 women accepted repatriated from Russia, 10 will have died because of the interaction of H5N1 and their HIV-compromised imune systems.

Policy Recommendations:
The most important international effect of either of these scenarios would be the lessening of trade with European Union companies. With most of our trade currently going to central and eastern European countries (11), this would undermine our burgeoning relationship with European Union companies. In the case of the tickborne encephalitis outbreak, both our international reputation and trade would be damaged. In the case of the novelly-distributed bioterrorism attack, we might garner sympathy from Western nations but, as with Estonia, it is unlikely that any would provoke an international conflict by calling Russia to task. Holes in our repatriation procedures would also have been exposed, damaging our international image. The best way to prevent either of these attacks, both exacerbated by our relatively weak hospital system, is to build up our medical infrastructure.

While we are in the happy position of having no neighbors who wish us ill immediately, our full inclusion in the European Union requires a safe and stable business atmosphere, which is impossible in either of the two scenarios outlined above. It is therefore to our national interest to strengthen our relationship with the WHO while we enhance our pandemic prevention mechanisms.

(1) 1-2% are killed. “Tick-borne Encephalitis”. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Visited 14 April 2010.
(2) “Lithuania: People: Major infectious diseases.” CIA World Factbook.
(3) Drexler, Madeline. Secret Agents. Pp 19.
(4) “Lithuania: Economy: Overview.” CIA World Factbook. Visited 14 April 2010. publications/the-world-factbook/geos/lh.html
(6) A large public park., +lithuania&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=35.219929,79.013672&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Vilnius, +Vilnius+Region,+Lithuania&ll=54.689437,25.270936&spn=0.001569,0.004823&t=h&z=18
(7) With most strains of tickborne encephelatus, most victims only suffer stiff necks, but in a minority of cases they may become paralyzed.
(8) While we are the top source of sex trafficking victims to the United Kingdom (2009) the UK (Tier 1) has much stronger protection mechanisms for sex trafficking victims than Russia (Tier 3). United States Department of State: Trafficking in Persons Report 2009.
(9) This scenario is based on the 2007 cyberterrorism attacks on Estonia, explained lucidly here: Evron, Gadi. “Defcon 15 – T242 Estonia and Information Warfare.” DefCon 15, Las Vegas, 2007.

(10) Note: there is no current evidence that this exists. It is posited for this paper.
(11) “Lithuania: Economy: Overview.” CIA World Factbook. Visited 14 April 2010. publications/the-world-factbook/geos/lh.html�

Inspirational Quote:

The best index to a person’s character is
a) how he treats people who can’t do him any good and
b) how he treats people who can’t fight back.
–Abigail Van Buren


  1. I am an attorney in Texas, currently researching trafficking in persons. I am originally from Lithuania. While searching the Web for trafficking in persons information, this headline came up (“Bio-Attacks and Lithuania”). Naturally, I just had to see what it was, even though it’s totally irrelevant for my purposes 🙂 Good luck in your cause fighting with

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