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No tool or piece of knowledge has an innate moralcontext. Just as a knife, in the hand of a skilledsurgeon, may save lives (good) that same knife, in thehands of a murderer, can take life (evil)
It is certain that ancient man usedbiological (germ) warfare . Theuse of biological toxins extractedfrom plants and animals on arrowheads or poison darts to kill gameand human enemies certainlypredates recorded history. Thistechnology is still used by someSouth American Indians andAfricans to slay game and todown a human enemy.
It was standard operating procedureto dip arrows in fecal material ordecaying meat before attacking anenemy as the role of infection indebilitating an opponent was wellunderstood.Fecal matter usually harbors the gasgangrene bacterium, Clostridiumperfringens, and often the tetanusbacillus,Clostridium tetani. Thepoisoning of an enemies’ watersupply by dumping dead bodies orfecal material into wells and otherconfined water sources is an ancientwar strategy; still in use today .
Withinrecorded , cases ofhumans using against theirfellow humans are welldocumented. During thewars of the middle ages itwas common to catapultthe bodies of victims ofsmallpox or bubonicplague . into besiegedtowns since it was wellknown that these twodiseases were highlycontagious.
There are numerous reports of Europeans knowinglytrading the American Indians blankets on which men haddied of smallpox or measles, two viral diseases thatdecimated these peoples. Forms of "indirect biological warfare" have beenemployed throughout history. In the Middle Ages siegesdepended upon starvation and disease to force theinhabitants to surrender.
The Nazis forced the Jews in theconcentration camps to live underconditions that they knew would lead to theoutbreak and spread of virulent diseasesamong a cold, starving and stressedpopulation. Both sides in the first andsecond World Wars recognized that theindiscriminate bombing of large civilianpopulations would have the consequenceof inducing disease outbreaks among theweakened and injured survivors.Embargoes that prevent food and medicinefrom reaching civilian populations can alsocould be considered to fit in this category.
At the time the U.S. biological weaponsprogram was terminated by PresidentNixon in 1969 two lethal biologicalagents, Bacillus anthrax and Francisellatularensis (tularemia), and threeincapacitating biological agents, Brucellasuis (brucellosis), Coxiella burnetii (Q fever) andVenezuelan equine encephalitis virus(VEE) had been standardized andweaponized.In addition they had also weaponized onelethal toxin, botox, and an incapacitatingtoxin, staphylococcal enterotoxin B. TheU.S. had also stockpiled several otherbiological agents and toxins.
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE PERFECT BIOLOGICAL WEAPONHighly infectious; requiring only a few organisms to cause thedesired effect (e.g. smallpox) or highly effective; requiring a smallquantity of material to cause the desired effect (e.g. botox).Efficiently dispersible, usually in the air; contagious oreffective on contact.Readily grown and produced in largequantities.Stable in storage; preferably in a ready-to-deliver stateResistant enough to environmental conditions so as to remain infectiousor operational long enough to affect the majority of the target, but not sopersistent as to affect the occupying army.Resistant to treatment; e.g.antibiotics, antibodies, pharmaceuticaldrugs etc.
TARGETS OF BIOLOGICAL WEAPONSBiological weapons may target living organisms or an environment seenas affecting the outcome of a struggle for control. These includehumans, both soldiers and noncombatants, commercial crops andanimals, the water supply, the soil, the air, or any combination of these.The object being, in each case, to weaken, terrify or punish the enemy toa degree which induces them to comply with the attacker’s demands.
ADVANTAGES TO THE USE OF BIOWEAPONS(BW) IN WAR: because it reproduces in the host, theoretically produce the desired detrimental outcome in a target host. That is, a single smallpox virus or plague bacillus, if deposited in the right place in the host, can grow and produce a disease. Biological toxins are among the most toxic agents known. For example, the quantity of botox in the dot of an ‘i’ is, when delivered properly, enough to kill ~10 people. Most bioweapons grade microbes are relatively easy and inexpensive to grow. Their cultivation doesn’t require large factories and can utilize common commercial equipment, such as that used in making cheese. While viral agents are more difficult to cultivate than bacterial agents, both can be cultivated by individuals with limited scientific training. Large quantities of biological weapons can, in most cases, be produced in a short period (a few days to a few weeks) at small facilities scattered over a large area.
dISADVANTAGES TO THE USE OF BIOWEAPONS (BW)IN WAR Difficulty of protecting the workers at all stages of production, transportation, loading of delivery systems and final delivery Difficulty in maintaining quality control and sufficient containment during growth and harvesting of agents Effective delivery problems: Poor storage survival Difficult to control once released
BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS CATEGORIES; KNOWN AND POTENTIALBIOLOGICAL WEAPONSTARGETED HOSTS: Humans Commercial Animals Commercial Plants Environmental Systems
OTHER BW CATEGORIESThere are no parasitic microbes (e.g. protozoan) listed above asBWs, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t be employed for such apurpose. For example, a variety of protozoa species arecandidates for BWs. These include the parasitesCryptosporidium, Entamoeba histolytica, and Giardia lamblia, allof which are common water borne pathogens capable of producinglarge natural epidemics. All have resting forms that render thenresistant to environmental stress and to common water purificationtreatments. All that is required is to find a way of mass cultivatingthem in the laboratory. These parasites would also qualify as"Environmental Systems" BW as they could pollute a region’s waterand food supply.
THE ETHNIC BOMBIn the fall of 1998 there was a report thatthe White SA government had ordered aprogram to develop a genetic engineeredbiologicial weapon that would specificallykill blacks. Recently a rumor surfaced (inthe English press)that Israel was working on a BiologicalWeapon that would specifically harmArabs carrying certain genes.
a number of stories have surfaced suggesting that many countries retain viable stocks ofthe smallpox virus and that some may even have large stores of this virus ready fordelivery as a biological weapon. The smallpox virus is a prime candidate for a BWbecause of the following characteristics: It is a DNA virus whose genetic code has been sequenced. It is easily (for a virus) cultivated and large quantities of the virus could be produced in a relatively short period of time It is a prime candidate for genetic engineering. It is easy to engineer it so that the current vaccines are no longer effective and to add virulence factors to the smallpox genome (e.g. botox gene) that would make it virtually 100% fatal. It is highly infectious, being spread by close human contact. It can be contracted by inhaling the virus. It is extremely hardy; surviving on fomites for days or weeks. Most of the worlds population is susceptible to this virus as routine vaccination was stopped when the WHO declared its eradication in 1979.
Although there is an effective vaccine against the wild type strain ofthis virus, the stocks of this vaccine are very low (7 to 10 milliondoses for a population of >260 million) and may have spoiled.Also, since it takes several days to 2 weeks after vaccination todevelop full immunity, vaccination following a widely dispersedapplication of the virus would be unlikely to have any significant effecton the near-term spread of the disease.Even those of us who received the vaccine as children may have lostour immunization, particularly against genetically engineered highlyvirulent strains.
"If you took a gram of smallpox, which ishighly contagious and lethal, and for whichthere’s no vaccine available globallynow, and released it in the air and createdabout a hundred cases, the chances areexcellent that the virus would go global in sixweeks as people moved from city tocity……the death toll could easily hit thehundreds of millions…..in scale, that’s like anuclear war."
Another old favorite BW, B. anthracis, is an aerobic sporeforming, gram positive bacterium that is highly infections and lethalto man and many of his domestic animals. It is naturally contractedthrough wounds, commonly by farm workers, but it can also beinhaled. In the former case, it produces a large cutaneous woundwhich, if the bacteria reaches the blood stream, results in afulminating septicemia that is usually fatal if untreated.Inhaled spores germinate in the lungs and produce a pulmonaryanthrax which is rapidly fatal in 80% of the cases. The sporesremain viable in the soil for many years and their presence thererenders contaminated land virtually unusable for non-immune farmanimals (and man) for years. Strains with increased virulence andresistance to antibiotics have been produced.
Treatment consists of immunization for prevention andantibiotic treatment for an infection or as prophylactictreatment of soldiers likely to come into contact with theorganism. Antibiotic treatment must be started quicklyand continued for 60 days. Human immunization requires a two to three week leadtime before exposure to anthrax. Troops in the recentwar with Iraq were immunized against anthrax and allUS soldiers are now (1999) routinely immunized againstanthrax.
Often touted as the most toxic substance in the world or at least in thebiological worldIt is an obligate anaerobe, which makes it a bit difficult to growbotox is relatively stable and can be stored in crystallineformIt can be absorbed through the mucous membranes so aerosoldispersal, addition to a municipal water or food supplies are likely ways ofintroducing botox into a populationIt is tasteless and odorless and, depending on the dosage, and may takefrom 2 to 14 days before the symptoms appear.The advantages of botox is that since its symptoms aredelayed, the damage is done .before victims realize what has occurred. The amount of antiserum requiredto treat 100,000s of exposed people is not availableThe known disadvantages are that botox is unstable in the air if exposed tosunlight and dry conditions and is destroyed by brief boiling
•This is a class of biological carcinogens, product by certainmolds, that induce liver cancer. Man and many other animals aresusceptible to this material. The molds that produces thismaterial grows well on grain, peanuts and other rich nutrientsAflatoxins are readily extracted with ethanol and easilyconcentrated. They are stable on storage, but their stability afterdispersal has not been reported. The onset of the cancer isuncertain and clearly dose dependent. As there are no knownhuman tests on the toxicity of this material, it is impossible toassign a minimal lethal dose
It enters the body through woundswhere it cause gas gangrene.Gas gangrene is an especially nasty diseasethat eats away the body while producing astenchIt is one disease that physicians candiagnose a block away from the patientTreatment involves antibiotics and exposure ofthe patient to pure oxygen which inhibits thegrowth of the bacillus.