Bioterrorism is the application of a bioweapon against a civilian population. Its purposes include achieving political goals, creating chaos, or the undermining of morale. Bioweapons use toxins and microorganisms to create disease and death in humans, crops, and livestock.
Nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons can all be applied to achieve similar destructive targets, but unlike nuclear and chemical technologies which are expensive to produce, bioweapons are comparatively inexpensive. These are easy to carry and resist detection by security systems. Generally, chemical weapons act tremendously, creating illness in minutes to an hour from the time of release. For instance, the release of the Sarin gas by the religious division Aum Shinrikyo in Tokyo subway in 1995 hospitalized 5,000 and killed 12 people. In contrast, damage from bioweapons may become evident after one or more weeks of an attack. If the disease causing or pathogenic agent is infectious and contagious, a bioterrorist attack could ultimately kill thousands over a larger area than the primary area of attack.
Bioterrorism can also be destructive, costly, and enigmatic even when targeted at a comparatively few number of peoples. Beginning in September 2001, the attacks of bioterrorist with anthrax causing bacteria spread through the mail targeted some U.S. government heads, media representatives, and apparently random private residents. As of May 2003, those attacks remain unanswered. Regardless, in addition to tragic deaths of 5 citizens, the terrorist attacks caused the United States widespread concern and cost millions of dollars. These attacks also represented the reality that bioterrorism can strike at the political, social and economic infrastructure of the targeted state.
Although the deliberate invention and stockpiling of bioweapons is prohibited by the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) in 1972, the United States stopping their weapons programs in the year of 1969--deliberate misuse or unintended byproducts of emerging technologies offer possible bioterrorists opportunities to refine or prepare bioweapons. Genetic engineering technologies are able to be used to create a wide variety of biological weapons including organisms which produce toxins or which are more weaponizable because these are easier to suspend as droplets in the air or aerosolize. More usual lab technologies can also create organisms resistant to antibiotics, therapeutics, and routine vaccines. Both technologies are able to produce organisms which cannot be sensed by antibody-based sensor techniques.
Among the most severe of potential bioweapons are those which use plague (caused by the Yersinia pestis), anthrax (caused by the Bacillus anthracis), and smallpox (caused by Variola virus). At the period of naturally occurring epidemics all over the ages, those organisms contain killed significant parts of afflicted publics. With the advent of antibiotics and vaccines, recently few U.S. doctors have the familiarity to readily identify these diseases, any of that could cause terrible numbers of deaths.
There are many reasons for the increase of bioweapons. Prominent among these are financial incentives; some governments may choice to selling bits of technical and scientific information which can be pieced collectively by the buyer to make bioweapons. Additionally, scientists in politically unstable or repressive countries may be enforced to join in research that finally ends up in hands of terrorists.
A bioweapon may eventually prove much more powerful than a traditional weapon because its consequences can be uncontrollable and far-reaching. After an accident relating Bacillus anthracis in the Soviet Union In 1979, physicians reported citizens dying of anthrax pneumonia that is, inhalation anthrax. Fatality from anthrax pneumonia is generally swift. The bacilli multiply quickly and create a toxin that causes inhalation to stop. While antibiotics can combat these bacilli, supplies sufficient to meet the treatment requirements after an attack on a large number of urban population would require to be distributed and delivered within one to two days of exposure. National Pharmaceutical Stockpile Program is calculated to allow such a reply to a bioterrorist attack.
Preparing a strategy to protect against these kinds of organisms, if in a genetically modified or natural state, is complicated. Some of these strategies include the application of bacterial RNA derived from structural templates to recognize pathogens; increased capabilities for rapid genetic detection of microorganisms; developing a record of virtual pathogenic organisms; and development of sterile molecules that fixed to pathogens but do not hurt humans or animals. All of these are an attempt to raise and make more flexible detection capabilities.
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