Surprisingly, the, inadvertent death or sickening of 6,000 sheep last spring in Skull Valley, less than 60 miles from Salt Lake City, has attracted only casual interest in the medical press. It is particularly astonishing because more than 4,300 of the deaths were due to an unidentified "nerve gas," presumably an organophosphate. Although a recent issue of Science1 gives detailed coverage of the incident, and although Army and PHS investigations have been completed, the medical world appears to have shown no alarm.
Not specifically named by the Army, much undisputed evidence from investigations identifies the agent obtained from dead animals, from forage, and from snow water as a cholinesterase inhibitor. Levels of cholinesterase in sickened animals were greatly depressed. The Army, as late as December 6, was quoted as denying that the nerve agent (being tested by them near the Dugway Proving Ground) caused the sheep deaths, but the