History of Bioterrorism

Bioterrorism is defined as "the deliberate or threatened use of bacteria, viruses or toxins to cause disease, death, disruption or fear.

Bioterrorism has been used as a weapon for decades.

Assyrians poison wells with rye ergot. In 700 BC the Assyrians poisoned wells with rye ergot. (see photo at right)

In the 1300s the Tartars catapulted plague-infected corpses over the walls of Kaffe (Crimea), which probably led to the Black Death plague epidemic that followed.

British soldiers distribute blankets to the American Indians. British soldiers in the 1700's gave blankets previously used by smallpox patients to the American Indians.

In World War II the Germans used anthrax on United States soldiers' horses and mules.

The Chinese dropped ceramic containers holding plague-infected fleas on Manchuria in 1940.

As recently as 1984 Rajneeshee Cult members sprayed salmonella on salad bars in Oregon, sickening more than 700 people.

Today experts predict the most likely method of a biological attack will be an aerosolized agent.


Agents of Bioterrorism

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) list six Category A Agents, based on how easy they are to obtain, weaponize, and disseminate, and how much death, damage, disruption or fear they might cause.

Cutaneous anthrax (left) and smallpox (right).

These Category A Agents are:
     Anthrax
     Smallpox
     Tularemia (rabbit fever)
     Botulism
     Plague
     Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers


For more information, click on the links below.

Click here to view the CDC's History of Bioterrorism video.               Click here, then click on the mask graphic on the CBS News page for a quick course in chemical and biological weapons.





Copyright © 2003 Springfield/Greene County Health Department, Bioterrorism / Emergency Response Team   

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