History of bioterrorism - Essay Example

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The history of bioterrorism dates back to antiquity but perhaps the bible has the first documentation of an event of this kind.Many wars were fought and won using bioterrorism as a tool.One of the main events in the history of bioterrorism is the mailing of letters infected with Bacillus Anthracis in the United States…
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Running Head: HISTROY OF BIOTERRORISM History of Bioterrorism APA Style Muneeb Ahmad Faiq The history of bioterrorismdates back to antiquity but perhaps the bible has the first documentation of an event of this kind. Many wars were fought and won using bioterrorism as a tool. This included the attempts in Trozan war, Acharya Rajneesh etc. One of the main events in the history of bioterrorism is the mailing of letters infected with Bacillus Anthracis in the United States. This lead many hospitalizations and deaths. Necessary measures were taken to combat this but till now no culprit has been identified.

Bioterrorism or in other words Biological warfare is defined as "intentional use of living organisms or their toxic products to cause death, disability or disease in man, animal or plants or to poison food and water supplies" ("The Biological Bomb", 1968). Bioterrorism dates back to antiquity but the Bible perhaps has to narrate the first event of bioterrorism as an event of anthrax in words that follow ".... Behold. the hand of the LORD is upon thy cattle which is in the field. upon the horses. upon the asses. upon the camels. upon the oxen. and upon the sheep: there shall be a very grievous murrain....." (Exod. 9:3, King James Version). Bacon comments that the myth of "red tide of Nile" in Egypt was probably as a result of delibrate contamination of potable water which tentamounted to what is today known as bioterrorism (2002). Ray says that in ancient age, the mode of implication of bio-weapons was simple and easy because of primitive technology and mainly confined in use of poisonous arrow and delibrate contamination of food and drinking water sources (Ray, 2007). Trodding down the lane of history , a good number of events have been recorded which are nowadays seen as those of bioterrorism. In Trozan war, the mythological hero of Rome, Phelectetes was injured by a poisonous arrow (Thucydides, 1972). In the fourteenth century AD, the castle of Thun L'Eve que in northern France attacked enemies by hurling dead animals by catapult. The Tartars won the battle in 1346 by spreading a plague in the city of Kaffa though its impacts were also seen away from Kaffa itself. In 15th century the Spanish conquistador Pizarro gifted the native Americans the smallpox infected clothes. Similarly the British distributed smallpox infected blankets to native Indians in order to go smooth with their goal of imperialism. Napolean in the year 1797 creted the conditions for surrender of Mantua of Italy by attempting the infection of its citizens with swamp fever. It was in 1942 that the Unites States initiated research for fabrication of biological weapons (Harris & Paxman, 1982). On september 7, 1978, the famous "Umbrella Assasination" took place in London. Acharya Rajneesh planned a contamination of restaurant salad bar in Oregon with Salmonella typhimurium in the year 1984. This resulted in salmonelosis of 751 people including 45 hospitalizations.
One of the most widely known events of bioterrorism took place in 2001. During september, the United states had to witness a biological attack mediated my mailing spores of Bacillus anthracis. The postal mailing of letter infected with Bacillus anthracis was the protocol used. The event resulted in development of anthrax in 22 persons and death of 5 patients. Theses attacks also lead to contamination of many government buildings posing a serious threat to the people of United States. Investigations have been carried into the attacks but so far no conclusive results have been drawn. As such more than 10,000 people were advised a post exposure prophilaxis. There were false rumours all around. A high alert signal rang up everyone's mind. People started to think of Unites States as an unsafe place to live or work. Since no advance preparedness was available so a rapid response grew up among clinicians, laboratorians and media. People were informed about everything regarding the spread of anthrax. Guidelines were issued for the rapid and proper diagnosis of anthrax and "primary care clinicians played a key role in managing post exposure prophylactic treatment interventions and their complications in the second phase of the response to the recent bioterrorist attack" (Gerberding, Hughes & Koplan, 2002). The threat was not confined to United States but its impacts were felt all over the world. Bacillus anthracis letters were reported at many US embassies all over the world. As a result Americans in remote corners of the world were advised Prophylaxis. Although much was done but the culprits behind this attack were not identified. The United States is still at risk of a bioterrorist attack and thus proper training of clinicians and health care professionals and information to the public is a great need of the hour.

Bacon D. R. (March 2002). The History of Bioterrorism: An Overview. ASA NEWSLETTER, VOl 66 No. 3
Gerberding J. L, Hughes J. M & Koplan J. P. (2002). In Handerson A D, Inglesby V T & O'Toole T (Eds.). Bioterrorism: Guidelines for Medical and Public Health Management.(pp. 31)USA AMA Press.
Ray T. K. (2007). Bioterrorism: A public Health Challenge. Delhi: Ahuja Publishing House.
The Biological Bomb (1968, March 20). The Lancet, 465
Thucydides (1972). The History of the Peloponnesian War, 431 B.C.E. (Warner R, translator) New York: Viking Penguin. Read More
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