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Radio Shows | Invisible Weapons of War and Terror | mp3wmawav

For all of us Nine-eleven was an awakening. It was the first major attack on American soil in almost 60 years.

The anthrax scare a short month later devastated our psyche further. We saw the US mail used as a way to deliver death and disease right to our door. Suddenly, bio-weapons became real.

But the fact is, they're not new. Infectious microbes have been used as weapons since ancient times.

The Romans slaughtered horses in their enemies' water supply because the decaying animal released infectious microbes making people deathly ill.

A particularly brutal case happened in 1346 when the Tartars defeated the Turkish city of Kaffa by tossing the heads and bodies of plague victims over the city walls.

Spanish conquistadors spread smallpox among native peoples in South America. And, on our soil, the British distributed infected blankets to Indian tribes during the French and Indian War.

Just 60 years ago, during World War II, Japanese troops exposed entire Manchurian villages to a deadly bacterium that caused tularemia. The Soviet army may have used the same agent to defend Stalingrad by sickening or killing thousands of German troops.

Today - the threat is just as real. It isn't difficult to produce infectious microbes, so we suspect governments and terrorist groups are developing bioweapons programs.

Even though we'd like to believe we're prepared, we're not. There aren't many drugs or vaccines and doctors have trouble diagnosing the diseases.

Before you get too discouraged... there's hope right in the labs of your universities. Scientists are developing drugs and methods to slow infections, so that standard therapies will work. The Centers for Disease Control and Homeland Security also have plans to control outbreaks.

The effort and expense of these research programs is absolutely worth it. We know our best hope for the future is today's biomedical research.

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For more information...

NIAID Biodefense Research
You will find general biodefense-related information, information on clinical trials related to biodefense, and a virtual tour of a biosafety level 4 (BSL-4) laboratory.

Short History on Biological Weaponry
Biological weapons have a long and ugly history.

During an attack on Kaffa (now Feodossia, Ukraine), Tatar armies catapult comrades who died of bubonic plague into the city. The defenders are infected, and they flee, apparently carrying plague to Europe. Thus the second outbreak of "black death" in Europe may be partly blamed on biological warfare.

Has Biodefense Gone Overboard?
The 9/11 terrorist attacks and the anthrax letters triggered a vast program to protect the U.S. from bioterrorism. Three years later, some scientists complain that it is hurting basic microbiology--and ultimately, public health.

Bioterrorism Agents/Diseases
Bioterrorism Agents/Diseases: A to Z.

CDC's List of Critical Biological Agents
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) published an updated list of what are considered some of the more critical biological agents we may face today:

Category "A" Agents - These biological agents could be easily disseminated to many people in a given area, with the potential for causing a major public health impact.

 
 

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