Thursday, October 30, 2014

Operation Big Itch... Oops

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.


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]    --Wikipedia

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