Document Page: First | Prev | Next | All | Image | This Release | Search

File: 970207_aadcn_003.txt
Page: 003
Total Pages: 20



Biological warfare is the use of microorganisms or toxins
derived from living organisms to produce death or disease in
humans, animals, or plants. In spite of the 1972 Biological
Weapons Convention prohibiting the use of biological warfare
agents, concern over compliance remains. It is possible that
allied forces may be exposed to biological weapons.
Characteristics of many live agents and toxins make them
potentially effective for offensive military use. These agents
can provide a readily available and effective weapon in the
hands of terrorists as well as assassins.

Delivery systems for biological warfare agents most commonly
generate invisible aerosol clouds with particles or droplets of
greater than 10 microns (m). They can remain suspended for
extensive periods. The major risk is pulmonary retention of
inhaled particles. To a much lesser extent, particles may
adhere to an individual or his clothing. The effective area
covered varies with many factors, including wind speed,
humidity, and sunlight. In the absence of direct evidence of
an attack, the first clue would be mass casualties fitting a
clinical pattern compatible with one of the biological agents.
This may occur hours or days after the attack. Toxins may
cause direct pulmonary toxicity or be absorbed and cause
systemic toxicity. Toxins are frequently as potent or more
potent by inhalation than by any other route. A unique
clinical picture may sometimes be seen which is not observed by
other routes (e.g. pulmonary odoms after staphylococcal
enterotoxin B (SEB) exposure). Mucous membranes, including
conjunctivae, are also vulnerable to many biological warfare
agents. Physical protection is then quite important and use of
full-face masks equipped with small-particle filters assumes a
high degree of importance.

Oral: Other routes for delivery of biological weapons
are thought to be less important, but are nonetheless
potentially significant. Contamination of food and water
supplies, either directly or secondarily after an aerosol
biological warfare attack, represents a hazard for infection


Document Page: First | Prev | Next | All | Image | This Release | Search