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Biological Agents of Warfare and Terrorism

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Title: Biological Agents of Warfare and Terrorism


1
Biological Agents of Warfare and Terrorism
  • Lecture Week 12
  • Medical Microbiology SBM 2044

2
Deliberately Emerging Infections
  • These microbes have been developed by man for
    nefarious use
  • Deliberate refers to
  • naturally occurring microbial agents such as
    anthrax
  • bioengineered microorganisms such as those
    created by the insertion of genetic virulence
    factors that produce or exacerbate disease

3
Biological weapons
  • Bioterrorism the malevolent use of bacteria,
    viruses or toxins against humans, animals or
    plants in an attempt to cause harm and to create
    fear
  • Biological weapons are inexpensive
  • Nuclear and chemical weapons are 800-600 times
    more costly to develop
  • Produce fear and panic ? overwhelm health care
    resources and destabilise government
  • Attention and understanding (of treatment) on
    bioterrorism is important to avoid this imminent
    threat to national security

4
History
  • Black Death of the 14th century
  • When the Tartars catapulted plague victims over
    the unassailable city walls in Kaffa
  • Killed 50 million of people, that is almost half
    of the Europe at that time
  • 1763, British troops in America used
    smallpox-infected blankets against the American
    Indians
  • 1984, an attempt to affect election in a small
    Oregon town, the Rajneeshees cult poisoned 10
    restaurant salad bars with Salmonella typhimurium
    and sickened more than 700 people

5
Tentative chronology of the initial spread of
plague in the mid-14th century
6
Plague
  • In the Islamic world, the Black Death had a
    particularly devastating effect militarily and
    economically. The rapid spread of the Plague
    through armies affected the outcome of several
    minor wars throughout the Islamic world. Even the
    strong Mamluk warriors in Egypt was sufficiently
    devastated by the Plague that the decline in its
    military capabilities was a significant factor in
    its demise and eventual defeat to the Ottoman
    Empire in the early 16th century.
  • Also, the Muslim historian Ibn Khaldun, lost his
    parents to the Black Death.

7
The plague was accompanied by chaos and panic.
People could not understand for what they were
being punished.
8
Plague
  • Also known as the Black Death, began in 1346 and
    wiped out ½ of Europe
  • Pandemics of plague have ceased with the advent
    of antibiotics and improved rodent control
  • But the outbreaks still occur
  • Yersinia pestis as a biological weapon
  • is relatively stable in the environment
  • 100-500 organisms are enough to cause infection

9
Zoonotic infection of rodents
10
Anthrax
  • Caused by ________ that forms stable endospores
    when nutrients are limited
  • The spores is the infectious particle
  • naturally stable, resistant to destruction
    (heat, dessication)
  • the weaponization of anthrax spores by drying
    and milling generates a unit spores size
  • Symptoms
  • Illness begins 1 to 6 days after exposure
  • Flulike fever, myalgia, malaise
  • Haemorrhagic mediastinitis (apparent on
    radiograph)
  • Shortness of breath, strident cough, chills
  • Death as the bacilli spread throughout the body
    in high numbers

11
Treatment for anthrax
  • Antibiotics, to be administered prophylactically
    after spore exposure
  • Bacillus anthracis is susceptible to
    fluoroquinolones, tetracyclines, most other
    antibiotics
  • Anthrax vaccine for military personnel,
    researchers

12
Smallpox
  • 1977 in Somalia, the last naturally occurring
    case of smallpox
  • 1980 WHO certified the world free of smallpox
  • Infection could spread rapidly from
    person-to-person, by aerosol release
  • Prevention vaccination with live vaccinia virus

13
Infectious period starts at the onset of
fever Within 2-4 days of fever onset, patient
will develop a maculopapular rash on the mucosa
of the mouth, pharynx and arms. Then spreads to
the trunk and legs
Figure shows pocks or sores which marked faces
and limbs of smallpox patients.
14
Conclusion
  • Terrorists might favour biological weapons than
    nuclear or chemical ones, for mass destruction
    because
  • bioweapons are easy to obtain
  • bioweapons are cheap to produce in large
    quantities
  • bioweapons are highly effective in creating
    human morbidity and panic

15
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