Sarin which has been used with such abandon in Syria. Both VX and Sarin (and the Новичо́к Novichok stuff which took out Серге́й Ви́кторович Скрипаль and Юлия Сергеевич Скрипал in Salisbury a couple of weeks ago) are anti-cholinesterases. Cholinesterase is an enzyme [most biologics ending -ase are enzymes] is which breaks down the neurotransmitter acetylcholine ACh after it has been used by motor neurons to stimulate the muscles. Anti-cholinesterases stop the enzyme working, so the ACh continues to call for muscle contraction and you die all locked up in the agonising spasms of tetanic paralysis. Botox kills you with flabby paralysis because it prevents the release of ACh from the motor neuron.
Team Dugway seem to have done a controlled experiment by trying out three different methods of dispersal: they fired an artillery shell; they burned 600 lt in an open-air pit; they loaded a fighter-plane with two tanksful and sprayed it out over the countryside. In all cases, they cut the lethal load with a red dye of similar density to make easier the post hoc detection. I wrote about using Serratia marcescens as a marker in another friendly-fire incident for CBW dispersal over San Francisco in 1950. A low-ranking officer on the Army's PR team mistakenly released a confidential report to the press and public opinion quickly gelled into the certainty that the [poor] sheep had been killed in a carelessly conducted experiment by the US military. It became A Mighty Wind that blew fresh air through the establishment and changed government policy on CBW and probably directly saved thousands of Vietnamese people and their livestock from a fate
The 3 internally inconsistent issues that interest me are:
- that the physics of dispersal and dilution of VX - which is lethal at small-small concentrations [LD50 about 10mg / person or about 10x more toxic than Sarin] but not so small that a single molecule homeopathically diluted by the wind can kill several thousand sheep - don't seem to be consonant with the supposed action-at-a-distance.
- the symptoms in the dying sheep - no difficulty breathing but internal haemorrhage - are definitely not consonant with VX poisoning: anti-cholinesterases exhaust the muscles which power the lungs because the neurotransmitter acetylcholine is left permanently ON stimulating them.
- only sheep Ovis aries seem to have been affected by the VX; not the jack-rabbits Lepus californicus; marmots, Marmota flaviventris; beavers, Castor canadensis; ground squirrels, Urocitellus mollis; Coyote, Canis latrans; Raccoon, Procyon lotor; nor Mule deer, Odocoileus hemionus.
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