Bioterrorism

Hey guys,

Todays blog is going to be a little bit different, but it is on a topic that is very important to talk about – bioterrorism.

Bioterrorism, or biological warfare, is the name given to the use of toxins or infections agents (bacteria / fungi / viruses) to incapacitate or kill humans, animals or plants as part of a war effort.

Because non-human life to do the actual damage, it is much more unpredictable and difficult to control, and could potentially cause global scale devastation.

Biological warfare has been used for thousands of years. One example of its use is during World War 2, when facilities to mass produce dangerous toxins were built. Luckily, the war came to an end before there toxins could be used.

Modern experts believe that if there were to be a bioterrorism attack in the future, the most likely organism to be used would be Bacillus Anthracis, the bacteria that causes anthrax.  This is because it is easily found in nature, easily produced in a lab and can survive for a long time in the form of powder, spray, water or food. And whats more, an Anthrax attack has been done in the past – “In 2001, anthrax spores were sent through the United States postal system. In all, 22 people contracted anthrax — five of whom died. And, the guilty party was never caught.”

Another potential bioterrorism agent is, surprisingly, smallpox.Even though it is no longer a disease of concern, there are still two laboratories (one in the US, one in Russia) that keep the smallpox virus. If someone were able to gain access to these, they could use it as an effective weapon till its vaccine is created again.

Cholera also has the potential of being used in bioterrorism due to its easy transport in water. If it could somehow be added to a major water source, millions of people could be affected by it. Cholera has been used as a weapon before, by countries such as the US, Japan, South Africa and Iraq.

Finally, the last potential bioterrorism agent I am going to talk about hasn’t actually been made yet, but very well could be – it is the use of gene editing. The way science and technology is advancing is insane, and if someone were to edit genes in non-harmful compounds or already harmful compounds, a lot of damage could occur, especially as it would take a while to figure out which gene has been taken out before being able to come up with a cure. A fairly cheap gene editing technology known as CRISPR is already easily accessible, so if it were to get into the wrong hands, it could definitely be used for evil intention.

In conclusion, bioterrorism is something people should definitely be aware of, as it can be just as dangerous (if not more) as any other approach to terrorism. Hopefully, more importance will be put on finding ways to reduce the easiness of a bioterrorism attack happening, because as of present, it seems to be far too easy…

Thank you for reading this weeks blog, if you enjoyed the read feel free to comment any opinions or new blog suggestions down below!

Thanks,

Rohini

Sources used:

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321030.php

Bioterrorism

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