Robert Heinrich Hermann Koch the German physician and one of the founders of bacteriology. He discovered the Anthrax disease cycle (1876) and the bacteria responsible for tuberculosis (1882) and cholera (1883). For his discoveries in regard to tuberculosis, he received the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1905.
On December 11, 1843 in Clausthal, Germany when Robert was born. Robert’s first toy was a magnifying glass. Koch was the third oldest of 13 children in his family, and his father has a hard time supporting them. Koch found his way somehow to college in dreams of becoming a ship doctor so he could sail to distant shores. In 1862 Koch went to the University of Gï¿½ttingen to study medicine. Here the Professor of Anatomy was Jacob Henle (Loop of Henle fame). Koch was without doubt mentally impacted by Henle’s view, published in 1840, that infectious diseases were caused by living, parasitic organisms. After taking his M.D. degree in 1866, Koch went to Berlin for six months of chemical study and there came under the influence of the famous German pathologist, Rudolf Virchow, a founder of cellular pathology. Virchow was the director of the Pathological Institute, Berlin (1856). He contributed to nearly every branch of medical science as well as to anthropology, and he introduced sanitary reforms in Berlin.
In 1850, another bacteria was added to the list of possible disease-causing microorganisms. Leeuwenhoek had first seen bacteria. The Danish naturalist Mueller had studied them extensively in the eighteenth century and by the naturalist Ehrenberg and the botanist Ferdinand Cohn in the nineteenth century. But so far they had not been suspected of pathogenic potentialities. French parasitologist Casimir-Joseph Davaine inspired by the work of the French microbiologist Louis Pasteur had showed, in 1863, that anthrax in sheep was due to the presence of rod-like bodies in the blood.
In 1850 french veterinarian Pierre Rayer, (1793-1867) rendered an account of some research discovered the anthrax bacillus in the blood of animals dying from anthrax and succeeded in transmitting it.
Aloys-Antoine Pollender In 1855 published the same discovery, based on observations he had made in 1849. It was no accident that the first pathogenic bacterium discovered was one of the largest discovered – Anthracis bacillus. Pollender had found bacilli in the blood of dead cattle. This bacillus was found responsible for the disease anthrax (a word which derives from the Greek word for coal. anthra^k-ia, as, Ep. anthra^k-iï¿½, ï¿½s, hï¿½, Anthrakis, because the disease causes black, coal-like skin lesions. (1) Coal or charcoal, generally used in the plural anthrakes, like the English “coals” (Aristoph. Ach.34).)
Another frenchmen Casimir-Joseph Davaine (1812-82), a general practitioner, later turned parasitologist inspired by the work of the French microbiologist Louis Pasteur had showed, in 1863, that anthrax in sheep was due to the presence of rod-like bodies in the blood. Davaine did not even have a laboratory; he kept his experimental animals in a friend’s garden. Despite the discrepancy, he succeeded in demonstrating that injection of 1 millionth of a drop of that blood caused anthrax in a cow.
However, the natural history of the disease was not complete. This required the painstaking observational work of Koch. 1849 .His laboratory was the 4-roomed flat that was his home, and his equipment, apart from the microscope given to him by his wife, he provided for himself.
In 1870 Koch volunteered for service in the Franco-Prussian war and from 1872 to 1880 he was District Medical Officer for Wollstein. It was here that he carried out the epoch-making researches, which placed him at one step in the front rank of scientific workers.
Anthrax was, at that time, had already plagued the animals throughout the farms in Wollstein district. Koch, although he had no scientific equipment and was cut off entirely from libraries and contact with other scientific workers, embarked, in spite of the demands made on him by his busy practice, on a study of this disease.
Koch set himself to prove scientifically that this bacillus is, in fact, the cause of the disease. He inoculated mice, by means of home-made slivers of wood, with anthrax bacilli taken from the spleens of farm animals that had died of anthrax, and found that these mice were all killed by the bacilli, whereas mice inoculated at the same time with blood from the spleens of healthy animals did not suffer from the disease. This confirmed the work of others who had shown that the disease could be transmitted by means of the blood of animals suffering from anthrax.
Koch had gone farther and after plenty of experiments, he demonstrated the complete life cycle of an organism. His anthrax experiments gave the first real proof of a relation between a bacillus and a particular disease. In 1877, Koch published a paper on the investigation of bacteria. Between 1873-6 Robert Koch investigated anthrax and developed techniques to view, grow, and stain organisms. He then photographed them, aided by Gram, Cohn, and Weigart.
In his paper, he told about his method of taking thin layers of bacteria on slides and fixing them by heat. He also invented the hanging-drop technique for microorganisms being placed on a slide. In 1878, Robert Koch wrote about his experiments on the aetiology of wound infection. By infecting animals with materials from different things, he produced six different types of infections; each one was due to a specific microorganism. Then he transferred the infections into different animals, and he successfully reproduced the original six infections. In the same study, he found that the animal body is an excellent place for the development of bacteria.
Robert Koch was a man who dedicated his life to finding the causes of infectious diseases. He spent most of his time studying and trying to find a cure for tuberculosis, but also examined many other diseases. His research was so wonderful that he won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1905.
In 1866 Koch married Emmy Fraats. She bore him his only child, Gertrud (b. 1865), who became the wife of Dr. E. Pfuhl. In 1893 Koch married Hedwig Freiberg. Dr. Koch died on May 27, 1910, in Baden-Baden.
To his utmost chagrin and regret Koch could not have known to what use fellow men would put anthrax to…
The Bacillus anthracis species is: rod-like spore-forming aerobic requiring oxygen to make spores, but not for the spores themselves to grow once they have been seeded) gram-positive i.e. it has a relatively thick outer wall composed of many layers of the polymer peptidoglycan) nonmotile -incapable of movement; large in size (1-8 ï¿½m in length, 1-1.5 ï¿½m in breadth). Spore size is approximately 1 ï¿½m.
Bacillus anthracis is a very large, Gram-positive, sporeforming rod (1-1.5um x 4-10um). The organism can be cultivated in ordinary nutrient medium under aerobic or anaerobic conditions. Genotypically and phenotypically it is very similar to Bacillus cereus, which is found in soil habitats around the world, and to Bacillus thuringiensis, the pathogen for larvae of Lepidoptera.
Incubation period for anthrax infection is one of the major problems with detecting anthrax is the potentially long incubation period of infections. The bacteria spend most of their time as spores in the soil, encased in a tough shell and practically lifeless. But when an animal swallows or inhales these spores, they come to life, and exude a protein, which allows them to burrow into the white blood cells called macrophages.
Anthrax is primarily a disease of domesticated and wild animals, particularly herbivorous animals, such as cattle, and other domesticated animals. Humans become infected incidentally when brought into contact with diseased animals, which includes their flesh, bones, hides, hair and excrement.
In humans, anthrax is fairly rare; the risk of infection is about 1/100,000. The most common form of the disease in humans is cutaneous anthrax, which is usually acquired via injured skin or mucous membranes. Spores from the soil or a contaminated animal or carcass inoculate a minor scratch or abrasion, usually on an exposed area of the face or neck or arms. The spores germinate, vegetative cells multiply, and a characteristic gelatinous edema develops at the site. This develops into papule within 12-36 hours after infection. The papule changes rapidly to a vesicle, then a pustule (malignant
pustule), and finally into a necrotic ulcer from which infection may disseminate, giving rise to septicemia. Lymphatic swelling also occurs within seven days. In severe cases, where the blood stream is eventually invaded, the disease is frequently fatal.
Depending on the virulence of the strain and the quality of a person’s health, it may take anywhere from several hundred to tens of thousands spores for a person to develop the disease. The Department of Defence estimates that an infectious dose of 8,000 to 10,000 inhaled spores will result in the development of the disease, but there is no conclusive data about the size of an infectious dose of anthrax.
Vaccines composed of killed bacilli and/or capsular antigens produce no significant immunity. A nonencapsulated toxigenic strain has been used effectively in livestock. The Sterne Strain of Bacillus anthracis produces sublethal amounts of the toxin that induces formation of protective antibody. The anthrax vaccine for humans, which is used in the U.S., is a preparation of the protective antigen recovered from the culture filtrate of an avirulent, nonencapsulated strain of Bacillus anthracis that produces PA during active growth. Anthrax immunization consists of three subcutaneous injections given two weeks apart followed by three additional subcutaneous injections given at 6, 12, and 18 months. Annual booster injections of the vaccine are required to maintain a protective level of immunity.
The vaccine had been indicated for individuals who come in contact in the workplace with imported animal hides, furs, bone, meat, wool, animal hair (especially goat hair) and bristles; and for individuals engaged in diagnostic or investigational activities which may bring them into contact with anthrax spores. The vaccine should only be administered to healthy individuals from 18 to 65 years of age, since investigations to date have been conducted exclusively in that population. It is not known whether the anthrax vaccine can cause foetal harm, and pregnant women should not be vaccinated.
Currently, the anthrax vaccine is produced under contract to the Department of Defence, and only small quantities are made available as needed to civilians who are exposed to anthrax hazards in their work environment, such as veterinarians, lab workers and others. An attempt to immunize 2.5 million members of the military ended three years ago, but that policy is being re-evaluated. If the manufacturer receives approval from the FDA, vaccine production will resume.
Low cost of producing the anthrax material. Not high technology and easy to produce in large quantities. Apart from being relatively easy to weaponize, and being silent, invisible killer. These are some of the reason that regrettably make Anthrax a good bioterrorism weapon; according to the U.S. Department of Defence. A highly lethal, with 100 million lethal doses per gram of anthrax material (100,000 times deadlier than the deadliest chemical warfare agent). Inhalational anthrax is virtually always fatal. Added to this array of deadly potentialities is the fact that it is extremely stable, and can be stored almost indefinitely as a dry powder. It can be loaded, in a freeze-dried condition, in munitions or disseminated as an aerosol with crude sprayers. And with the current status of knowledge, science has a limited detection capability.
According to Centre for Strategic and International Studies, New Scientist, Jane’s Intelligence Review etc making weapons-grade anthrax can be done somewhat with relative ease. It is an established fact that biological agents can be dispersed in liquid or dry form. The wet formulations of anthrax are easier to make, but less potent and difficult to dispense for their atrocious ends. By use of further technically elaborate process, it can then be dried into a formulation that has easier spreadability.
The natural history of Bacillus anthracis has remained obscure. Although the spores have been found naturally in soil samples from around the world, the organisms cannot be regularly cultivated from soils where there is an absence of endemic anthrax. In the United States there are recognized areas of infection in South Dakota, Nebraska, Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and California; small areas exist in other states. Even in endemic areas, anthrax occurs irregularly, often with many years between occurrences.
First step in doing that is obtaining a virulent strain of Bacillus anthracis. Thankfully this task is not so easy due to imposition of tight laboratory security controls, but it is not impossible either. Some countries are rumoured to have sold anthrax, otherwise it can be procured from a contaminated pasture. Osama bin Laden et al are reported to have acquired anthrax through the mail. This group as known sourced its supply from an East Asian country.
The bacilli are then duplicated in a fermenter, creating wet slurry. The strength of the mixture is about 10 to 15%, and in order to make it into an effective bioweapon very large conspicuous quantities would have to be produced. Slurry technique churns out, a low-tech, low virulence material and theoretically has a limited use perhaps in hand-held sprayers.
On the contrary the dried forms can bring yields that have 100% potency, thereby causing more casualties. But to producing this variety is fairly demanding and an ambitious undertaking that involves either elaborate processes like freeze-drying which itself requires complex, sophisticated and somewhat expensive apparatus that can handle the anthrax spores in airtight canisters.
Alternatively the desiccated form can also be obtained through a centrifuge process that allows separation of the critical bacterial matter. Once the dried form of anthrax is created, it then must be suspended in a medium that allows keeping bacteria alive and yet transmissible. The most obvious method would be to convert bacterium back into its original spore form, but all this requires a great deal of expertise.
The process entails diligent control of particles size no larger than 1ï¿½m, in order to have powdery form mass able to float in the air. Particles have to be smaller than 5ï¿½m in order to have penetratability in the human natural defences of the respiratory system and to lodge in the lungs.
If a group were successfully able to clear all of these obstacles, they may create a dry powdered form of anthrax that can be delivered by aerosol spray or modified crop-dusting equipment. Creating the equipment itself presents other technical challenges. (UPI, Center for Strategic and International Studies, New Scientist, Jane’s Intelligence Review (Aug. 1999))
Humans get anthrax infections in three forms:
Cutaneous through cuts or breaks in the skin),
Inhalational (from breathing in anthrax spores), and
Meningitis due to B. anthracis is a very rare complication that may result from a primary infection elsewhere.
Anthrax is not contagious. The only way to get the disease is to be exposed to large numbers of spores of the microbe.
According to discussions in Guardian, BBC, New York Times investigators have been working on a theory that a disgruntled employee of a domestic laboratory that uses anthrax carried out the attacks. FBI agents have checked every American laboratory that uses anthrax and found that none was missing form inventory. In addition, none has reported suspicious activity. A lone crank would also have to have been helped by someone. The sophistication and potency of the type of anthrax used also indicates that it was cultured by someone who had garnered the skill needed to do so – possibly in a state-run programme
All these point to what military analysts refer to as Asymmetrical Warfare. Much of western military thinking has traditionally assumed that conflicts will involve conventional warfare against an opponent of comparable might, using similar weapons on a known battlefield.
However, military experts have been pointing out for years that resistance forces in places like Chechnya have been conducting a very different kind of war, in which defenders fight on their own terms, not those of the enemy petrol bombs against tanks, for example. This has been given the name of asymmetrical warfare by counter-terrorism experts, a term that appears to date from the early 1990s. In it, a relatively small and lightly equipped force attacks points of weakness in an otherwise stronger opponent by unorthodox means. All guerrilla activity, especially urban terrorism, falls within this definition.
The attacks on the US on 11 September are a textbook example and the term has had wide coverage since. Asymmetrical warfare” has been popular with strategic analysts for years, but in so far as it had any substance, that took the form of theoretical and difficult articles in obscure military journals. Suddenly, “asymmetrical warfare” knocks down giant buildings and kills thousands. The US urgently needs to discover how to get on to an equal footing with the asymmetrical warriors.
Professor Malcolm Dando of the Department of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford, UK is of the opinion that developments of this kind mean that the threat of biological weapons is very real in today’s post-Cold War world.
His findings have recently been published in a book entitled Biological Warfare in the Twenty First Century, summarised in the New Scientist. Professor Dando has also acted as a consultant to the BBC television programme `Assignment’ on this subject.
His work shows that hopes for a more peaceful world following the conclusion of the Cold War were premature. As the tension between East and West has declined, the potential for an equally threatening arena of conflict between North and South has evolved.
Biological weapons could provide an increasingly attractive means to progress this conflict, not least because they are relatively cheap to produce. Moreover, their use is not currently controlled by international verification procedures such as those, which apply, for example, to nuclear arms.
This fact was proven in 1991 during the Gulf War when Saddam Hussain is known to have backed an offensive programme using anthrax spores and botulinum toxin, which could have been used against the Allied Forces.
Professor Dando believes it can succeed if the North and South co-operate honestly and generously. In a genuine bid for peace the advances in biotechnology could be used for development rather than destruction, for example through a `vaccines for peace’ programme, or by sharing knowledge in order to improve agricultural production.
The last decade of the twentieth century has been described as a `window of opportunity’ in the campaign for arms control. Professor Dando is convinced that governments, the military and above all the general public, must take advantage of this opportunity by keeping up the pressure for multi-lateral disarmament. In this way the spectre of a biological Armageddon in the next century could be avoided.
New York Times in one of its columns on Feb 2001 prophetically stated, “Welcome to the world of asymmetrical warfare, a place high on the anxiety list of military planners. In the asymmetrical realm, military experts say, a small band of commandos might devastate the United States and leave no clue about who ordered the attack”.
Plagued by hype itself today biological weapons may seem a modern phenomenon, but they have a long, ugly history.
Biological Warfare: Anthrax, other organisms and chemicals have been used for centuries as weapons of war
Germï¿½Chemical Warfare ï¿½ Time Lines
Biblical times. In the beginning, there may have been anthrax. Epidemiologists have opined the first outbreaks might have occurred in Biblical times. The book of Exodus describes 10 plagues that affected both humans and animals in Egypt. The fifth plague was murrain, a cattle-pest, which killed the Egyptians’ livestock. In the sixth plague, boils erupted on men and beasts. One of the symptoms of anthrax — also known as ‘woolsorter’s disease’ ï¿½ are boils.
Sixth Century B.C.: One of the earliest reported uses of bioterrorism. Assyrians poison enemy wells with rye ergot, a fungus that causes convulsions if ingested.
In the 14th century, during an attack on the Crimean port of Kaffa (now Feodossia, in Ukraine), on the Black Sea was besieged by Janibeg, Khan of the Kipchak Tartars. Some Italian traders who had come to Kaffa were also ensnared. The military blockade lasted for as long as three years, during which time plague – caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis – broke out in Central Asia and overspread to Crimea causing death of many soldiers of the Tartar army.
Commander Janibeg was forced to lift the encirclement and withdrawing with his enduring military personnel. As a departing shot, he catapulted the plague-infected corpses of his soldiers into the beleaguered city. Plague broke out in Kaffa, and the Italian guests carried the infection back to their country
From Italy, the plague outspread to entire Europe. Commencing the so-called ‘black death’, which wiped out 25 million lives. Thus the second outbreak of “black death” in Europe could partly be blamed on biological warfare.
1763: During the French and Indian Wars, Sir Jeffrey Amherst, commander of British forces in North America knowingly that the Indians had no immunity to smallpox, which was nonexistent in the Americas before the advent of the white man. Recognising the discrepancy he directed that blankets contaminated with smallpox scabs be distributed to the enemy tribes in the Ohio River Valley. In the resulting epidemic, 30 per cent of the native Indian population died and many became blind.
World War I: First large-scale use of chemicals such as chlorine and mustard gases.
World War I: Germany aims an ambitious biological weapons project at its enemies’ livestock. Anthrax and glanders (both bacterial diseases) are used to infect sheep that will be shipped to Russia. Germany also tries to infect American horses that will be shipped to the Western front.
1925: In response to biological and chemical attacks during World War I, the Geneva Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or Other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare, is signed. The treaty prohibits the use of such weapons, but not their development or storage, and provides for no inspection. The Soviet Union, France, and Great Britain signed the treaty; the United States did not ratify until 1975.
1942 On Gruinard Island, off the coast of Scotland, the British conducted anthrax tests on sheep. Today, the uninhabited island is still believed to be infected with anthrax spores.
1932-1945: In modern times, Japan was the first country to develop a biological warfare programme. Japanese employed more than 3,000 scientists and ancillary staff in its biological weaponizing anthrax, cholera, typhoid and bacillary dysentery, in occupied china. Prisoners were intentionally infected with several biological agents, and at least 10,000 die. The Chinese claim that Japan airdropped biological weapons in 1944 on 11 Chinese cities, which lead to the outbreak of plague, killing people in multiple numbers.
1939-1945 The British also experimented with biological weapons during World War II. Experiments were conducted mainly with anthrax, a potentially lethal disease, which infects both animals and humans and is caused by Bacillus anthracis. The British along with Winston Churchill seriously considered the proposal of dropping anthrax bombs on German cities, in response to German V-1 rocket attacks on London. Had this materialised, possibly half the population in the German cities would have died and the cities turned in unliveable for decades
A 1941 attack on Changteh kills at least 1,700 Japanese troops, demonstrating that biological weapons are tricky to use.
1942: The U.S. began an offensive biological weapons project at Camp Detrick, Md. Tests with anthrax and other pathogens were hindered due to absence of safe enclosures. Non-pathogenic test organisms’ escaped, and a large-scale production of bio-weapons was thereafter halted. Following the Second Great War, efforts continued at the renamed Fort Detrick and Pine Bluff, Ark.
1950s and 60s United States’ Offensive Biological Program. The U.S. expands its offensive biological warfare program, which started during World War II. The U.S. Army in U.S. cities using nonpathogenic bacteria conducts tests in secret.
1949-1968: U.S. surreptitiously tests dispersal of non-pathogenic agents (as stand-ins for biological weapons) in New York City, San Francisco and elsewhere. By the late 1960s, according to George Christopher and co-authors at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases, the “U.S. military had developed a biological arsenal that included numerous bacterial pathogens, toxins, and fungal plant pathogens that could be directed against crops to induce crop failure and famine.”
In 1969, the program culminates with a large series of tests of its offensive biological munitions in the Pacific Ocean. The tests, conducted by the U.S. Army, involved a large number of ships loaded with caged animals. The tests were considered a success.
1969: President Richard Nixon ended the U.S. biological weapons program, and pledged the nation will never use biological weapons under any circumstances. The entire arsenal was destroyed by 1973, except for seed stocks held for research purposes.
1972: The Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction is signed by more than 100 countries, going into effect in 1975. Signatories include Iraq and all permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.
During the Cold War era the Cuban government asserts that it had been endangered by biological warfare by the United States on multiple occasions. During 1971, the country experienced the first grievous outbreak of swine flu in the Western Hemisphere, which ruined its economy, as more than 500,000 pigs, had to be decimated in order to contain the outbreak.
Cuba has also laid claims to destruction caused by microorganisms of its sugarcane and tobacco plantations. As the Cuban say these ‘attacks’ were instituted into the country repeatedly to destroy the crops. Independent verifications of these allegations have never been available.
A more persuasive case of biological warfare can be made against the white minority regime of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). The largest recorded outbreaks of more than 10,000 plus anthrax infected cases occurred in 1970 in the territory controlled by guerrillas. It is implausible for so many individuals becoming infected by ‘natural’ means. Lip service investigation followed and nothing much could be made out of these.
On April 2, 1979, there was an unusual anthrax outbreak in the Soviet city of Sverdlovsk (now called Ekaterinburg), roughly 850 miles east of Moscow, affecting 94 people and killing at least 64 of them. The first victim died after four days; the last one died six weeks later. The Soviet government claimed the deaths were caused by intestinal anthrax from tainted meat, a story some influential American scientists found believable. However, the Carter White House continued to suspect the outbreak was caused by an accidental release of anthrax spores from a suspected Soviet biological weapons facility located in the city. The US believed that the Soviet Union was violating the Biological Weapons Convention signed in 1972 and made their suspicions public. But the Soviets denied any activities relating to biological weapons and at numerous international conferences tried to prove their contaminated meat story. Notwithstanding all the deception, it is still called as the largest outbreak of inhalation anthrax that occurred when aerosolized anthrax spores were accidentally released.
Western inspectors have never been allowed to visit this military facility. But according to Dr. Kanatjan Alibekov the former First Deputy Director of Biopreparat from 1988 to 1992. (Biopreparat was the Soviet Union’s biological-weapons program.) Alibekov defected from the Soviet Union and moved to Washington, DC in 1992.
He calls himself now Ken Alibek, It is said that workers at the military facility who forgot to replace a filter in an exhaust system had caused the anthrax airborne leak. The mistake was realized shortly after, but by then some anthrax spores were released. Alibekov says if the wind had been in the opposite direction that day-toward the city of Sverdlovsk–the death rate could have been in the hundreds of thousands.
Alibek appeared on Feb. 25, 1998, in a PrimeTime Live report on NBC news interviews the former Soviet biological warfare official, told The New York Times that the Russian program, despite official cancellations in 1990 and 1992, continued doing offensive research. “We can say Russia continues research in this area to maintain its military biological potential”
During the 1980s, the US administration charged that the former Soviet Union was continuing research on biological weapons despite being a signatory to the 1972 biological weapons convention.
1975-1981. The United States accuses the Soviet Union of using a biological toxin against enemies in Laos, Cambodia and Afghanistan. These so-called “yellow rain” attacks are eventually traced to bee feces.
1984: The Rajneeshee religious cult intentionally contaminated salad bars in Oregon restaurants with Salmonella, causing 751 cases of gastroenteritis Forty-five of these people required hospitalisation.
1991: About 150,000 U.S. troops in the Persian Gulf area were vaccinated against anthrax, a biological weapon in Iraq’s arsenal. Iraq’s bio-weapons were deployed, but not used during the Gulf War.
The London Sunday Times reported in March 1994 that the Russians had developed a ‘super’ plague so powerful that 200 kg sprayed from planes could kill 500,000 people.
1995: The Aum Shinrikyo cult attacked Tokyo subways the main danger at present as feared came from Japanese cult group killing 12 and injuring 5,000. Investigators learn the cult is also working with several biological warfare agents, including anthrax and botulism toxin. Aum Shinrikyo had gone so far as to recruit hundreds of scientists and build secret laboratories with intent to weaponize chemicals and biological material.
The cult leader Shoko Asahara himself led an expedition to Zaire in an attempt to obtain samples of the Ebola virus, one of the deadliest viruses known to mankind.
Though the group’s attacks with sarin gas had more success than its efforts with botulinum toxin, with the rise of religious fanaticism and militant nationalism, the risk remains that other groups would look to biological agents once again as a weapon of mass destruction.
1997: Iraq again rebuffs United Nations weapons inspectors, who may be closing in on secret biological weapons facilities.
Feb. 18, 1998: Two men, one of them a microbiologist, are arrested in Nevada and charged with possessing anthrax. The men are released when the sample tests out as anthrax vaccine.
The London Sunday Times reported in March 1994 that the Russians had developed a ‘super’ plague so powerful that 200 kg sprayed from planes could kill 500,000 people.
1. Venter, Al J. “Sverdlovsk Outbreak: A Portent of Disaster.” Jane’s Intelligence Review, May 1, 1998: 36
2. Biological weapons — a special issue, JAMA, 6 Aug. 1997
3. Fighting Anthrax. http://www.abcnews.go.com/
4. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention CDC information about bioterrorism and related issues, http://www.bt.cdc.gov Anthrax
5. Anthrax Vaccination Program Information http://www.anthrax.osd.mil
6. Bispecific Monoclonal Antibody Complexes Facilitate Erythrocyte Binding… Ronald Taylor et al, Journal of Immunology, 15 Oct., 1997, pp. 4035-44.
7. Iraq’s Deadliest Arms: Puzzles Breed Fears, William Broad and Judith Miller, The New York Times, 26 Feb., 1998, p. A1.
8. Historical Trends Related to Bioterrorism: An Empirical Analysis by Jonathan B. Tucker, Monterey Institute of International Studies, Monterey, Calif.
9. University of Bradford
10. BBC- www.bbc.co.uk
11. Bacteriology 330 Lecture Topics: Anthrax. 1999 Kenneth Todar University of Wisconsin
12. Department of Bacteriology. Anthrax (Bacillus anthracis). …
13. John Keegan “How Bush should fight 21st Century Warfare” Friday 14 September 2001 as viewed on September 18,2001 http://www.theage.com.au
Industry Safety: What You Need to Know About Anthrax