What Is Bioterrorism?

Bioterrorism is the use of bacteria, viruses or microorganisms to deliberately harm large numbers of people or communities. Bioterrorism is rare and is used to threaten people, governments and nations.

Bioterrorism includes the deliberate or threatened use of viruses, bacteria, fungi, toxins or chemicals from living organisms to cause death or disease in humans, animals or plants. Bioterrorists are pathogens or biological toxins used to cause death and disease in humans, animals or plants for terrorist purposes.

A bioterrorism attack is the deliberate release of viruses, bacteria or other microorganisms (agents) used to cause disease or death in humans, animals or plants. A biological attack is the deliberate release of bacteria or other biological substances that can make you sick.

Biologics are viruses, bacteria, or other microorganisms that are naturally present in the environment. Biological agents are living organisms or toxins that can kill or maim people, livestock and crops.

Terrorists may use biological agents because they are extremely difficult to detect and do not cause disease for hours or days. Terrorists may find biological agents an attractive alternative to conventional weapons due to their relatively low cost, relative availability, and relative ease with which they can be produced, delivered, and evaded. Many biological agents can be used to make weapons, but most experts agree that only a limited number of known biological agents can cause widespread disease and death.

We know that the technology for the production and use of dangerous biological agents is potentially available to people who may want to use them. Of concern is the threat of bioterrorism, in which biological agents are used by extremists as weapons against civilians. The bioterrorism threat is real, and current reports indicate that individuals, terrorist groups, and criminals have both the ability and intent to use biological agents to harm society.

Bioterrorist attacks could also lead to epidemics, for example, if Ebola or Lassa viruses were used as biological agents. In bioterrorist attacks, usually only a small number of people can be injured or wounded. In the event of a bioterrorist attack or just a natural outbreak, it may be necessary to avoid contact with infected people, or simply stay indoors for a certain period of time until infected people are no longer contagious.

Some bioterror agents, such as the smallpox virus, can spread from person to person, while others, such as anthrax, cannot. Anthrax can be a form of bioterrorism if someone intentionally spreads anthrax in public places.

Bacillus anthracis, the bacterium that causes anthrax, is one of the most likely agents for biological attack. In humans, there are 3 forms of anthrax caused by the same bacteria. Other agents used in bioterrorism include botulism, plague and smallpox.

Bioterrorism agents are typically naturally occurring microorganisms, but it is possible that they can be modified to increase their virulence, make them resistant to existing antibiotics or vaccines, or improve the ability of these agents to spread in the environment. Agents that can be used as bioterrorism weapons are classified according to their level of threat. There are common clinical signs, symptoms and syndromes caused by agents of bioterrorism.

A complete list of bioterrorism agents can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for a complete list of potential pathogens and diseases, as well as appropriate treatments. In response to the threat of bioterrorism, Congress authorized the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to coordinate efforts to strengthen national public health capacity to combat bioterrorism.

For example, public health authorities have developed systems to rapidly detect and investigate disease outbreaks that may be the first sign of a biological attack. Familiarity with the highest-priority sources of infection can expedite initial diagnosis and treatment, enabling a successful public health response to such attacks. In the event of a biological attack, public health officials may not immediately provide information on what you should do.

Antibiotics may be recommended if bioterrorism is suspected; however, there is no antibiotic effective against all diseases. Antibiotic prophylaxis (use of a drug before exposure to prevent infection) carries some risks and, in the absence of any evidence of release of a biological agent, is currently of no benefit. Given the risks associated with the inappropriate use of antibiotics, and because medicines from the national stockpile will be readily available to prevent people exposed after a confirmed bioterrorist attack, LAC DHS strongly advises clinicians not to prescribe antibiotics to patients for current or future use. accumulates in the future. Stockpiles of antibiotics effective against the most likely bacterial agents of bioterrorism are already in place and will be available in the event of a bioterrorist attack.

Other potential clues that raise suspicions of a bioterror attack include new types of antibiotic resistance in bacteria as some biological agents are being modified (weaponized) to make them more lethal, an unusual number of cases, and atypical presentation of the disease.

Biological terrorism is the use of biological agents (bacteria, viruses, parasites, or biological toxins) to deliberately cause disease or intoxicate a susceptible population in order to achieve terrorist goals. Interpol’s Bioterrorism Prevention Unit is designed to help law enforcement prevent, prepare for and respond to the deliberate use of biological bacteria, viruses or toxins that threaten or harm people, animals or agriculture.

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