Biolgical Warfare

Ally Peters - 5th Hour

What is Biological Warfare?

BioWarfare is the use of disease-producing microorganisms, toxic biological products, or organic biocides to cause death or injury to humans, animals, or plants.

Media Influences

Movie: "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" follows a chimpanzee named Caesar who gains human-like qualities from an experimental drug meant for humans. He eventually uses the drug, which is deadly to humans, to kill off the entire human race. I feel like this isn't very realistic at all. The chances of a similar scenario are very slim.

Book: The White Plague, a marvelous and terrifyingly plausible blend of fiction, tells of a man who is pushed over the edge of sanity by the senseless murder of his family and who, reappearing several months later as the so-called Madman, unleashes a terrible plague upon the human race---one that zeros in, unerringly and fatally, on women. This is scary, but entirely plausible.

Who Can You Talk To About Biological Warfare?

The topic of Biological Warfare can be discussed among many groups of people. Since it would affect every person in the contaminated area, you can talk to almost anyone about it.

• Historians:

Historians would know a lot about Biological Warfare because it has been used frequently in the past. Some examples would be the use of nerve gas in the World Wars, the spread of the small pox virus by the British in blankets distributed to the Indians in the 18th century French and Indian war, and even in Minnesota in 1995 when members of a militia were convicted with possession of ricin.


• Medical Professionals:

Medical professionals would have an extensive knowledge about the effects of many maladies. Some include Anthrax, Smallpox, Q-Fever, Typhoid Fever, Ebola, and many more. You could talk to them if you are concerned you may be experiencing unusual symptoms.


• The General Public:

The general public should be concerned about BioWarfare, and they should be aware of the risk it poses. You could discuss with families plans of escape if a Biological Warfare attack were to occur.



Immediate Risk Factors:

  1. You could become violently ill.
  2. You may not even know a sickness is coming, because often times diseases do not affect individuals until days after contamination.
  3. Many diseases are engineered in labs to be more powerful than their common counterparts.
  4. Inexpensive and easy to produce
  5. Can be aerosolized
  6. Survives sunlight, drying, heat
  7. Person-to-person transmission

Long Term Risk Factors:

  1. You might die.
  2. As stated above, many diseases are more powerful. That being said, you could become sick for much longer than anticipated.
  3. Powerful diseases can cause permanent damage to organs.
  4. No effective treatment or prophylaxis (sometimes)
  5. Cause lethal or disabling disease

Advances

Medical advances are making biological warfare much more possible, as people can create new super-diseases. That being said, more cures for these diseases are also being made possible. Biodefense involves medical measures to protect people against biological agents. This means medicines and vaccinations. It also means medical research and preparations to defend against bioterrorist attacks. The United States started an offensive biological warfare program at Camp Detrick (today Fort Detrick) in Frederick, Maryland in 1943. The defensive program began ten years later. By 1969, the U.S. had weaponized the agents causing anthrax, botulism, tularemia, brucellosis, Venezuelan equine encephalitis, and Q fever. A treaty banning biological warfare was drawn up by the Geneva Conference in 1971 and approved by the United Nations General Assembly. About 80 nations signed the Biological Weapons Convention. The US ratified it in 1974. However, its effectiveness is still questionable.

Sources

Local:
• Minnesota Department of Health
Infectious Disease Epidemiology Prevention and Control Divison.
Contact: (612) 676-5414 or (877) 676-5414

Online:
• Hooker, Edmond, MD, DrPH. "Biological Warfare." EMedicineHealth. Ed. William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Oct. 2012.
<http://www.emedicinehealth.com/biochem-war.htm>.
• Danzig, Richard, JD, DPhil, and Pamela B. Berkowsky, MALD. Why Should We Be Concerned About Biological Warfare? N.d.

Ally Peters