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Biological Weapons


Introduction





If terrorist were to get hold of biological weapons and use them at the right time and in the right place, that could be the last day of your life on this world and the first of many horrible days for people in a different place of the world (Garrett 1). Hype pathetical scenario In February 1, the John Hopkins Center for Civilian Defense Studies mapped out a bioterrorist Scenario. In the scenario, the vice president of the United States makes a speech at a university. Eleven days later, a student with flu-like symptoms is admitted two the university hospital. Two days later the student comes back to the hospital fighting for her life. A janitor who cleaned up after the vice president’s speech also turned up with the same symptoms . That same night the hospital’s infectious disease expert comes to a disturbing conclusion that both patients have smallpox. This was a big surprise because the virus only exist in Atlanta and Siberia under lock and key, there can only be one conclusion someone had stolen one of these samples and used them as a threat directed at the vice president of the United States. Under this scenario more than 15,000 people die of smallpox worldwide within two months, and in about another 1 months 80 million people worldwide will be dead. Why people ask because all of the vaccines for smallpox was destroyed, and it will take years to make enough to help the world (JHCCDS 1).


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Background


Biological weapons- weapon used in which toxic biological agents are used to destroy, seriously injure or kill soldiers, civilians, plants, and animals (Encarta, Clark 1). Biological weapons cause civilian death and other problems when the agents drift into the air. Until the 0th century such weapons were limited to starting fires, poising wells, and distributing smallpox-infected articles (Encarta 1). Biological weapons have never been used on the battlefield, but the increased amount of research and testing of disease-producing bacteria caused worldwide alarm (Clark ). “As a result, the Biological Weapons Convention signed by the United States, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, and 67 other nations in 17 prohibited the development, production, and stockpiling of Biological agents and toxins (Clark )”. Many people have asked the question is the United States prepared for a biological weapons attack by terrorist or another country?


Issue


The threat of America is changing. During the 170’s and 80s, policymakers prepared for bombings and hijackings over seas. Today they are preparing to defend against attacks on the U.S. The worst of those threats is the use of a WMD (Weapon of Mass Destruction), more so the use of a biological weapon. The CDC is working to better the nation’s capacity to respond to disease threats in the United States, including ones coming from bioterrorist. A strong and flexible public health system is the best defense against any disease out break. “In addition to working on our public health system, the CDC is exploring new approaches for the rapid identification of unusual events”(Terrorism Research Center 1).


Body


Smallpox and anthrax lead the list of biological weapons that could hurt the population. Anthrax struck with deadly effects in Florida, the small pox virus was basically over with in the late 170’s. “But if smallpox was to ever make a come back, it would be far more difficult to contain”. It’s a less likely threat than anthrax, but potentially more catastrophic, because it is contagious. Smallpox was once a worldwide epidemic that was spread by coughing, sneezing, or physical contact( Boyle ). Anthrax which is not a contagious disease but is received by a break in the skin or mucous membrane. In recent years the public has become more aware of anthrax because of its development as a biological weapon( Compton’s 1).


Causes


Anthrax, infectious disease caused by the spore-forming Bacillus anthracis. This disease usually occurs in warm blooded, domestic and wild animals, it also may occur in humans. The infection happens in one of three ways cutaneous, or through the skin; respiratory; and gastrointestinal. Humans get the disease because of exposure to infected animals or animal products. Anthrax lives in water, soil, and vegetation, and can be transmitted through the air. In the cutaneous form of the disease, spores enter the through a cut or a break in the skin. This form of the disease occurs mostly among people who handle contaminated wool, hides, leather, or hair products from infected animals. The gastrointestinal form of this disease occurs after eating contaminated meat. The most deadly form of anthrax is the respiratory. This has been call the “wool sorter’s disease” because it occurs most commonly with people who work with such animal products wool, hides, leather, and hair -particularly goat hair. This disease transmitted by inhalation of spores containing dust from these items( Compton’s 1 and ).


The next smallpox epidemic would be the release of the disease on purpose. No other agent has a high death rate as smallpox that’s why a terrorist would use it. Since smallpox ability to spread from person to person is easy then that makes it a more of an ideal weapon to use. Also there is no real treatment for smallpox, and also the one vaccine that works to help calm the symptoms is only in a limited supply. “Although smallpox has always been feared universally as the most devastating of all infectious diseases, its destructive potential today is far greater than at any time in history”( Henderson 1).


Symptoms


In the cutaneous form of anthrax the first sign is usually a raised itchy bump. Then within a few days the bump develops a black center, which is dying tissue. Then the infection may spread into the blood stream. 0 percent of these cases untreated result in death. In The gastrointestinal form of anthrax the first sign is inflammation of the intestinal tract. Next pain in the abdomen, vomiting blood, and diarrhea. About 0 to 60 percent die. In the respiratory form of anthrax symptoms are usually those of a common cold. In a few days the spores reach the chest cavity that contains the heart and bleeding and inflammation occurs. From the chest cavity, the spores easily enter the bloodstream, resulting in shock( Compton‘s 1 and ).


The first sign of smallpox is a fever that begins 7-1 days after infection. Second, sign is pimples 1-5 days after fever. Third, sign is blisters or pustules 1-4 days after the pimples. Fourth, scabbing occurs -6 days after the blisters. Fifth, the scabs fall off with in 10-40 days after beginning eruption, which leave pink sores, which become white after months (Henderson 1)


Treatments With anthrax in countries where the disease level is high, humans should avoid contact with livestock and livestock products and avoid consuming meat the meat that has not been cooked right. Treatment with antibiotics must begin before the symptoms start. Penicillin is the most commonly used treatment. There also several other antibiotics that are just as effective( Compton’s 1 and ).


The Vaccinia virus is a very effective agent against the smallpox virus. The use of the smallpox vaccine has diminished smallpox greatly. At the World Health Organization in 180 smallpox the world was declared smallpox free. The smallpox vaccine is now only given to laboratory workers that work directly with smallpox( CDC 1).


Conclusion


The major question people asked was is the world prepared for a biological weapons attack on the U.S.? The CDC has is building up the dormant stocks to be used. This stock will only vaccinate 7.5 million of the 15.4 million people in the United States. The CDC has also ordered 40 million doses of a new vaccine from a company in Britain. This stock of medicine wont be ready until 004( Boyle ). On the other hand anthrax most recent antibiotic Cipro is being made in laboratories and has been very effective when given to the person in enough time( Boyle ).


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