Anthrax is an effective biological weapon because the infectious agent is the spore form of the organism, which can be stored in a dry, concentrated form for decades. Spores can be released into the air where they may be inhaled to cause a lung infection, the most severe form of anthrax in humans.
What are the characteristics that make anthrax attractive to developers of biological weapons?
There are several characteristics of B. anthracis that make it a potentially very lethal bioweapon, most importantly its stability and infectivity as an aerosol and its large footprint after aerosol release. An aerosol release of anthrax could potentially affect millions of individuals.
How does weaponized anthrax work?
They are able to reach deep into the lungs when inhaled. Once the spores are in the lungs they are then able to replicate in blood, travel to the lymph nodes, and produce toxins which lead to death.
Why is Bacillus anthracis a potent bioterrorism weapon?
B. anthracis is considered an effective bioterrorism agent for a number of reasons, including its ability to be effectively aerosolized and grown in large industrial quantities, its high fatality rate when aerosolized, and the persistence of its spores in the environment â€“ which can survive for decades.
When was anthrax used as a biological weapon?
The first deliberate uses of anthrax as an act of aggression were recorded in the early decades of the 1900s, during World War I. There is evidence that the German army used anthrax to secretly infect livestock and animal feed traded to the Allied Nations by neutral partners.
What features make some bacteria suitable for use as a biological weapon?
Intrinsic features of biological agents which influence their potential for use as weapons include: infectivity; virulence; toxicity; pathogenicity; incubation period; transmissibility; lethality; and stability.
What are the qualities biological agents possess that make them attractive to terrorists?
Biological weapons are very attractive to the terrorist because of several characteristics. Aerosols of biological agents are invisible, silent, odorless, tasteless, and are relatively easily dispersed. They are 600 – 2000 times cheaper than other weapons of mass destruction.
How do you activate anthrax spores?
This can happen when people breathe in spores, eat food or drink water that is contaminated with spores, or get spores in a cut or scrape in the skin. It is very uncommon for people in the United States to get infected with anthrax.
What is the deadliest biological weapon?
Bacillus anthracis bacteria, which causes anthrax, is one of the most deadly agents to be used as a biological weapon. It is classified by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a Category A agent, posing a significant risk to national security.
What are the characteristics of anthrax spores that make disinfection more difficult?
However, B. anthracis vegetative cells convert into spores on exposure to air. These spores are highly resistant to heat and to most of the disinfectants. Therefore, post-mortem of anthrax infected animals is never recommended to avoid the exposure of bacteria to oxygen.
What is anthrax bioterrorism?
A biological attack, or bioterrorism, is the intentional release of viruses, bacteria, or other germs that can sicken or kill people, livestock, or crops. Bacillus anthracis, the bacteria that causes anthrax, is one of the most likely agents to be used in a biological attack.
What makes anthrax a likely bacteria for reemergence?
Bacillus anthracis spores are highly resistant to heat, pressure, ultraviolet and ionizing radiation, chemical agents and disinfectants. For these reasons, B. anthracis spores are an attractive choice as biological agents for the use of bioweapon and/or bioterrorism. Soil is the main reservoir for the infectious agent.
Has there ever been bioterrorism?
This incident was the first known bioterrorist attack in the United States in the 20th century. It was also the single largest bioterrorism attack on U.S. soil. In June 1993, the religious group Aum Shinrikyo released anthrax in Tokyo.
How many people died from anthrax?
Anthrax occurs naturally around the world in wild and domestic hoofed animals, especially cattle, sheep, goats, camels and antelopes. It can also occur in humans when they are exposed to the bacterium, usually through handling animals or animal hides.
How is anthrax vaccine made?
The anthrax vaccine is made by taking a strain of the bacterium, Bacillus anthracis, and growing it in the laboratory. The bacteria release several harmful proteins, called toxins, into the surrounding broth. These toxins are responsible for disease in those infected with the anthrax bacteria.