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Biological and toxin terrorism weapons


Biological and toxin terrorism weapons



Arhiv Za Higijenu Rada i Toksikologiju 54(1): 29-43



ISSN/ISBN: 0004-1254

PMID: 14574772

The use of biological agents and toxins in warfare and terrorism has a long history. Human, animal and plant pathogens and toxins can cause disease and can be used as a threat to humans, animals and staple crops. The same is true for biological agents. Although the use of biological agents and toxins in military conflicts has been a concern of military communities for many years, several recent events have increased the awareness of terrorist use of these weapons against civilian population. A Mass Casualty Biological (Toxin) Weapon (MCBTW) is any biological and toxin weapon capable of causing death or disease on a large scale, such that the military or civilian infrastructure of the state or organization being attacked is overwhelmed. A militarily significant (or terrorist) weapon is any weapon capable of affecting, directly or indirectly, that is physically or psychologically, the outcome of a military operation. Although many biological agents such as toxins and bioregulators can be used to cause diseases, there are only a few that can truly threaten civilian populations on a large scale. Bioregulators or modulators are biochemical compounds, such as peptides, that occur naturally in organisms. They are new class of weapons that can damage nervous system, alter moods, trigger psychological changes and kill. The potential military or terrorist use of bioregulators is similar to that of toxins. Some of these compounds are several hundred times more potent than traditional chemical warfare agents. Important features and military advantages of new bioregulators are novel sites of toxic action; rapid and specific effects; penetration of protective filters and equipment, and militarily effective physical incapacitation. This overview of biological agents and toxins is largely intended to help healthcare providers on all levels to make decisions in protecting general population from these agents.

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