World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Operation Big Itch

 

Operation Big Itch

Operation Big Itch was a U.S. entomological warfare field test using uninfected fleas to determine their coverage and survivability as a vector for biological agents.[1] The tests were conducted at Dugway Proving Ground in 1954.

Contents

  • Operation 1
  • Results 2
  • See also 3
  • Notes 4

Operation

Operation Big Itch was a September 1954 series of tests at Dugway Proving Ground in Utah.[2][3] The tests were designed to determine coverage patterns and survivability of the tropical rat flea (Xenopsylla cheopis) for use in biological warfare as disease vector.[3] The fleas used in these trials were not infected by any biological agent.[4] The fleas were loaded into two types of munitions and dropped from the air.[4] The E14 bomb and E23 bomb, which could be clustered into the E86 cluster bomb and E77 bomb, respectively.[3] When the cluster bombs reached 2,000 or 1,000 feet (600 or 300 m) the bomblets would drop via parachute, disseminating their vector.[3]

The E14 was designed to hold 100,000 fleas and the E23 was designed to hold 200,000 fleas but the E23 failed in over half of the preliminary Big Itch tests.[3] E23s malfunctioned during testing and the fleas were released into the aircraft where they bit the pilot, bombardier and an observer.[4] As a result, the remaining Big Itch tests were conducted using only the smaller capacity E14.[3] Guinea pigs were used as test subjects and placed around a 660-yard (600 m) circular grid.[3]

Results

Big Itch proved successful,[3][5] the tests showed that not only could the fleas survive the drop from an airplane but they also soon attached themselves to hosts.[6] The weapon proved able to cover a battalion-sized target area and disrupt operations for up to one day.[3] The one-day limit was due to the activity of the fleas; the air dropped fleas were only active for about 24 hours.[2]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Bubonic plague is an infection of the lymphatic system, usually resulting from the bite of an infected flea.
  2. ^ a b Rose, William H. "An Evaluation of Entomological Warfare as as Potential Danger to the United States and European NATO Nations", U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command, Dugway Proving Ground, March 1981, via thesmokinggun.com, accessed December 25, 2008.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Kirby, Reid. "Using the flea as weapon", (Web version via findarticles.com), Army Chemical Review, July 2005, accessed December 23, 2008.
  4. ^ a b c Croddy, Eric and Wirtz, James J. Weapons of Mass Destruction: An Encyclopedia of Worldwide Policy, Technology, and History, (Google Books), ABC-CLIO, 2005, p. 304, (ISBN 1-85109-490-3).
  5. ^ Novick, Lloyd and Marr, John S. Public Health Issues Disaster Preparedness, (Google Books), Jones & Bartlett Publishers, 2001, p. 89, (ISBN 0-7637-2500-5).
  6. ^ Leeson, Kate. "Biological Weapons: Bioterrorism and the Public Health", Medical Association for the Prevention of War, 2000, p. 12, accessed December 25, 2008.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 


Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.