What Is Bioterrorism?

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : May 23, 2022, 6:33

Bioterrorism refers to the intentional discharge of bioweapons such as virus infections, bacteria, poisons, or other hazardous agents to induce illness or even death between humans, plant products, and livestock.

Since they can be manipulated, adapted, or mutated, they are extremely dangerous. It only takes a small amount to have a terrible consequence. It is also known as 'Germ Warfare.'

Acts of Bioterrorism

Several events were suspected of being acts of Bioterrorism by Indian security officials. The following are a few of them:

  • Pneumonic plague assault in Surat in 1996
  • Dengue hemorrhagic fever attack in Delhi in 1999
  • Anthrax attack in Midnapore in 2001
  • the Mystery Encephalitis in Siliguri in 2002.

In this article, we will discuss what Bioterrorism is and its details.

Why is Bioterrorism Risky?

Bioterrorism is the intentional discharge of bioweapons such as virus infections, bacteria, poisons, or other hazardous agents to induce illness or even death among humans, plant products, and livestock, used to scare the civilian population.

It is risky because of the following reasons:

  1. Biological agents appeal to terrorism tactics because they are simple and inexpensive to procure.
  2. The virus is very easy to spread.
  3. Beyond the physical harm it might do, it can inspire widespread dread and panic.
  4. The danger of mass extinction is far too great.
  5. They can also be used in extremely small amounts, but the consequences are life-threatening.
  6. Their existence cannot be noticed more quickly since germs take time to establish and spread widely and disastrously.

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What is Bioterrorism in Food?

A variety of microbes and bacterial toxins could be employed to contaminate the food supply. Some of them are botulism toxin, Clostridium perfringens contaminant, Salmonella species, E. coli O157:H7, Shigella, and Staphylococcal enterotoxin B.

However, the Clostridium botulinum toxin that causes botulism is the most lethal and likely employed in Bioterrorism.

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List of Lethal Biological Weapons

The following list is some of the most lethal biological weapons ever utilized -

Anthrax - Bacillus anthracis is the organism that causes anthrax. It's one of the deadliest biological weapons ever devised. Food, water, spray, and powders have all been used. It doesn't have any flavour or odour.

Botulinum Toxin (produced by Botulinum Tox) - Clostridium Botulinum, a naturally occurring microbe, causes it. It is possible to use it to contaminate food and water. During Japan's conquest of Manchuria, it was rumoured to be used on POWs.

Tularemia (Francisella tularensis) - It is a disease caused by Francisella tularensis. According to a former Soviet Union scientist, the Soviet Union Army deployed this as a bioweapon against the Nazi Army of the German army During World war II's Battle of Stalingrad.

Aflatoxin - Iraq had developed and used a variety of Aflatoxin-tipped weapons. In 1995, the UNSCOM made a note of it. During the Gulf War, however, it was destroyed.

The First Bioterrorism Attack Recorded in History - In 1347, Mongol armies were said to have flung bacteria bodies over the ramparts into the Black Shipping port of Caffa ( Feodosiya in Ukraine), which was a Genoese commercial centre in the Crimean Peninsula.

The US has passed the 'Bioterrorism Act of 2002' to improve bio-defence, but India lacks comparable legislation. The Bioterrorism Act of 2002 establishes a critical component of the United States' national preparation against Bioterrorism, focusing on the safety of medications, food, and water against biological agents and poisons.

So far, India has focused its efforts mostly on the NDMA, NDRF, and DRDO. Some DRDO laboratories are working on this project and have created defensive devices and components to shield Indian troops against nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare.

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FAQs on Bioterrorism

Q1. What is Bioterrorism?

Bioterrorism is the intentional discharge of bioweapons such as virus infections, bacteria, poisons, or other hazardous agents to induce illness or even death among humans, plant products, and livestock, used to scare the civilian population.

Q2. What is the Bioterrorism Act of 2002?

The US has passed the 'Bioterrorism Act of 2002' to improve bio-defence, but India lacks comparable legislation.

Q3. What is Bioterrorism in food?

Bioterrorism in food refers to various microbes and bacterial toxins that can be employed to contaminate the food supply.

Q4. What are toxins used in Bioterrorism in food?

The toxins used in Bioterrorism in food are botulism toxin, Clostridium perfringens contaminant, Salmonella species, E. coli O157:H7, Shigella, and Staphylococcal enterotoxin B.