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BSBD 641 Bioterrism

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BSBD 641 Bioterrism

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Course Code: BSBD 641
University: University Of Maryland Global Campus

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Country: United States

Middle ages Renaissance
a. Infectious diseases were recognized for their potential impact on people and armies
1. Plague
a. Polluting waste
b. Animal carcasses/ cadavers
2. Small pox
3. Germ warfare
Early modern Europe- 20th century world war 1 and 2
a. Anthrax
b. Crop diseases
c. Foot and mouth disease

Bioterrorism in the Middle Ages Renaissance and Early Twentieth Century
Due to escalated terrorism threats, the risk posed by different microbes as bioterrorism weapons should be examined to comprehend the biological agents and historical developments. The agents of biological warfare might be more powerful than the common chemical weapons. In the past century, the biochemistry and biotechnological developments have simplified the production and improvement of such weapons. Additionally, genetic engineering perhaps poses the most fatal prospect. Factors such as production simplicity and wide availability of technical skills and biological agents have resulted in increased desire and further spread of biological weapons in developing countries. This report describes the theories of bioterrorism and highlights its development stages, application and the efforts to regulate its spread throughout history. The bioterrorism threats are very significant and real; they are neither in the world of science fantasy nor restricted to the United States.
Potential Impact of Infectious Diseases on Armies and People
Contagious infections were identified for their possible effects on armies and people during the early 600 BC (“Borden Institute”, 2018). The harsh utilization of cadavers, filth, contagion and animal carcasses had the severe impact that weakened the enemy. Contaminating boreholes and other water sources of the enemy was a normal strategy used across the many European warfares, especially in the course of the American Civil War and even the twentieth century.
During the middle ages, military leaders discovered that victims of contagious infection could be used as weapons (“Borden Institute”, 2018). For instance, in 1346, the Caffa siege, a fortified Genoese-managed seaport (the current Feodosia of Ukraine) had its Tartar force attacked by a plague epidemic. However, the forces used the predicament to their advantage by throwing the cadavers into the city and hence starting a plague epidemic within that region. Consequently, an outbreak of the plague occurred compelling the Genoese forces to retreat. The plague epidemic also called the Black Death, spread across North Africa, Near East and Europe in the fourteenth century and was perhaps the most severe medical disaster to go down in the books of history (Barras and Greub, 2014). The original source of the plague remains unclear, with several nations such as China, Mongolia, Far East, Central Asia and India being suggested (Schamiloglu, 2017).
In 1349, Gabriel de Mussis, a lawyer from Piacenza in North Genoa, described the Caffa siege based on two significant claims (Bokhari, 2018). The first claim argued that the plague was conveyed to the Caffa people by the throwing of cadavers into the city. The Italians then fled from the city and transferred it to the Mediterranean seaports. Moreover, the ships that carried the infected rats and refugees sailed to Venice, Genoa and other Mediterranean seaports and led to the outbreak of the second plague epidemic (Schamiloglu, 2017). Nevertheless, considering the plague’s epidemiology and ecological complexity, it might be more simplified to say that one biological attack was the main source of the epidemic in the city of Caffa and the fourteenth century pandemic in European nations (Hasan, 2014). However, the justification of bioterrorism in Caffa city is reasonable and in line with the technical knowhow of that period, and in spite of its historical insignificance, the Caffa siege is an important reminder of the devastating effects of using infectious diseases as weapons.
Also, during the same period, the same plague epidemic which led to the deaths of about twenty five million Europeans in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, additional incidences show the different uses of infectious diseases and poisons in warfare. For instance, in 1422, dead bodies were hurled into the enemy ranks in Karolstein. The same strategy of using plague victim cadavers was employed in the year 1710 during the war between Swedish forces and Russian troops in Reval. Historical records mention on many occasions the utilization of biological weapons in the form of filth, human and animal cadavers, and infectious diseases. These events mainly took place during the last two millennia.
Smallpox is another infectious disease that has been identified as an effective bioterrorism weapon in the current world. Several studies indicate that during the fifteenth century that Pizarro gave variola-infected clothes to the native South Americans (Carus, 2017). Also, during 1754 to 1767 French-Indian war, Sir Amherst Jeffrey the British commander in North America, proposed the intentional use of smallpox to reduce the hostile indigenous Indian population (Whyfiles.org, 2018). The small pox outbreak in Fort Pitt resulted in vital fomite generation and offered Sir Amherst Jeffrey with the ways to implement his plan. In 1763, one of the subordinate officers of Sir Amherst Jeffrey, Captain Ecuyer, gave the Native Americans smallpox-contaminated blankets obtained from a smallpox hospital. He even went ahead and recorded in his journal that he hoped it would produce the desired results (Koster, 2017). Consequently, a huge smallpox outbreak took place in the river valley of Ohio among the hostile Indian tribes. More importantly, it is also worth noting that there were other several interactions between the Native Americans and European colonialists that resulted in such pandemics, which have been taking place for over two centuries. Additionally, smallpox transmission by fomites was not effective when likened to transmission through respiratory droplets.
The explanation of the various historical efforts of utilizing infectious diseases in bioterrorism indicates the challenges of distinguishing between the attempted or alleged bioterrorism attacks and naturally arising epidemics.
World War I, II and the Early 20th Century
The utilization of biological warfare developed and became more complicated during the nineteenth century. Ideally, Koch’s conception indicates the modern microbiology development that facilitated the production and isolation of specific pathogen stocks.
Significant evidence indicates the presence of ruthless bioterrorism programmes in Germany during the First World War. Allegedly, the programmes involved secret operations. Also, circulating reports during the First World War indicated the German efforts to transport cattle and horses injected with infectious diseases which were able to produce bacteria such as Pseudomonas pseudomallei (glanders) and Bacillus anthracis (anthrax) to many countries including the United States (Khardori, 2006). Similar agents were utilized in infecting the Romanian ships that were to be exported to Russia. Other evidence indicates the German efforts to transmit plagues in Russia, especially St. Petersburg and transmit cholera in Italy (Cohn, 2017). However, Germany refuted the allegations, encompassing the accusation that it attempted to drop biological bombs in Britain.
In the year 1924, a board of the Temporary Mixed Commission of the League of Nations which supported Germany did not find enough evidence regarding the use of bacteriological arms in warfare. Nonetheless, the body found hard evidence that indicated the use of chemical arms in warfare. These findings compelled the direction of multinational diplomatic efforts towards the minimization of production and utilization of weapons of mass destruction, including the chemical and biological weapons (Cohn, 2017).  Several agreements were assigned in June 1995. Since the viruses were not distinguished from bacteria during that period, they were not particularly indicated in the agreement. One hundred and eight nations, encompassing the five permanent United Nations Security Council members signed the agreements. However, other protocols such as the Geneva Protocol lacked the compliance of verification rendering it less efficient (Walther, Whitby, Dando & Novossiolova, 2015). Consequently, various nations that were signed to the 1925 Geneva Protocol started developing biological weapons after its endorsement. Such countries encompassed Italy, Great Britain, Canada, France, Netherlands, the Soviet Union, Poland, and Japan. The U.S. didn’t endorse the Geneva Protocol until the year 1975 (Walther, Whitby, Dando & Novossiolova, 2015).
Foot and Mouth, and Crop Diseases
Between the 1980’s and 1990’s, scientists from the Soviet Union utilized newly established genetic engineering strategies to generate vaccines subverting and antibiotic resistant strains of tularemia, plague, anthrax, and smallpox for the application of biological weapons (Vargo, 2017). Genetically engineered epizootic and zoonotic animal and human diseases, and virulent cultured or wild strains of natural cattle infections pose possible severe risks to wildlife, livestock, and rare species in populations. The epizootic and zoonotic infections encompass anthrax, tularemia, and plague while the cultured or wild strains of natural cattle infections include brucellosis, rinderpest, and foot and mouth disease. Plant infections were often developed as biological weapons for application against coca plants, opium poppies, and other food crops. However, the infections would affect the non-target wild plant species and hence their subsequent local establishment and introduction to new settings(Vargo, 2017).
Bioterrorism utilizes the emerging zoonotic infections and enzootic cattle infections to pose severe risks to wildlife and cattle populations that were not earlier exposed. These threats remain prevalent, and possibly in many incidences, wildlife species might be infected by the severe cattle infections without showing obvious signs and symptoms. For instance, many previous global infections that have been eliminated from the cattle populations of Western Europe and the U.S. over the last one hundred years still exist in other places and are readily available to persons and terrorist groups. Vaccines for the animal infections which are still existing in developing countries and have been eradicated from North America and Europe, as well as their drugs for regular treatment, might not be readily accessible in adequate amounts that subdue the broad outbreaks of the infections in livestock and animals.
Most of the agents of biological weapons that were cultivated and tried for use against humans and animals in the early 20th century were not very infectious organisms. Recent arsenals of bioweapons, however, encompass highly contagious and infectious diseases that are easy to generate and release. The weapons are also capable of causing high mortality and morbidity in both the animal and human populations. Generally, the infections of specific focus for such biological weapons encompass the foot and mouth, Newcastle infection, the Rift Valley fever, the African swine fever, rinderpest, African horse sickness, avian influenza, Venezuelan equine encephalomyelitis, tularemia, plague and smallpox (Firshein, 2014). According to the increase in a number of recent suicide attacks carried out in Israel and the U.S., previous assumptions that the bioterrorists and pioneers of the bioweapons may be unwilling to risk their own lives in the producing, developing and releasing the infectious human diseases should be re-examined.
            It is vital to emphasize that bioterrorism acts against crops and livestock neither requires lab cultivations nor encompass organisms that cause infections in humans. Infectious material samples which were acquired or cultivated from the affected animals or plants are the ones necessary in many incidences (Firshein, Moran and Cooke, 2014). Natural and highly contagious livestock infections that can easily be obtained and transported are not normally harmful to humans but are able to cause devastating pandemics in nations with commercialized livestock farming practices are common and extensively spread in many countries of the world. Highly infectious livestock infections such as foot and mouth disease, rinderpest and anthrax remain to be enzootic and occasionally common in nations related to well-funded, globally active and highly organized terrorist groups (Msagati, 2017). Thus, there are no particular technologies or strategies needed for concealed and economically targeted bioterrorist acts against livestock and crops. The only requirement is a determined conspirator or actor, availability of the suitable disease agent and careful planning (Msagati, 2017).
The utilization of biological weapons for the aim of economic damage on livestock and agricultural production is a possibly devastating risk to biodiversity. Apart from the biological weapons directly affecting the genetic variety of domesticated animals and plants, they also have the ability to result in both the indirect and direct effects on animal and plant population. In terms of the crop diseases, and the foot and mouth disease, this report has discussed the possible impact of utilizing laboratory cultivated biological weapons along with the natural infectious organisms as bioweapons among and within the animal and crop populations. Much of the above discussion also applies to the possible impact of plant biological weapons on the non-target types of domesticated and wild plants.
In conclusion, bioweapons are unique because they are normally invisible and have delayed effects. These characteristics enable the users to instil fear and propagate confusion among the victims in order to facilitate undetected escape. A bioterrorist attack not only leads to sickness and death among the many victims, but also aims to instil fear, terror, and generate doubt, with the main goal of disturbing economic and social activities, weaken the military reactions and paralyze governmental authorities. The selection of the biological agents mainly relies on financial, technical and economic ability of the organization or state. For instance, the Marburg virus, Ebola and smallpox may be selected because they are known for resulting in more devastating infections. Apparently, the news images of the nurses, doctors and law enforcement individuals while in tight protective attires could lead to extensive public interference and anxiety.
General prevention depends on the creation of a stable universal belief that prohibits the development of biological weapons. Other prevention measures encompass timely detection and immediate treatment of the infections. The health experts should also play a significant role in prevention by engaging in the monitoring and reporting and hence indicating the presence of bioweapons. Additionally, further research aimed at improving surveillance, diagnostic abilities, treatment agents and convenient response approaches will further improve additional prevention measures. This report has discussed bioterrorism in the Middle Ages Renaissance encompassing plague, smallpox and germ warfare. Also, the report highlighted biological infections in the early 20th century such as anthrax, crop diseases, and foot and mouth disease. Finally, the report concluding by proposing the suitable primary, secondary and tertiary measures for preventing and controlling bioterrorism.
Barras, V., & Greub, G. (2014). History of biological warfare and bioterrorism. Clinical Microbiology and Infection, 20(6), 497-502.
Bokhari, H. (2018). Exploitation of microbial forensics and nanotechnology for the monitoring of emerging pathogens. Critical Reviews In Microbiology, 44(4), 504-521. doi: 10.1080/1040841x.2018.1444013 (Bokhari, 2018)
Borden Institute. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.bordeninstitute.army.mil/cwbw/default_index.htm
Carus, W. S. (2017). A Short History of Biological Warfare: From from Pre-History to the 21st Century. Government Printing Office.
Cohn, S. (2017). Cholera revolts: a class struggle we may not like. Social History, 42(2), 162-180. doi: 10.1080/03071022.2017.1290365
Ditrich, H. (2017). The transmission of the Black Death to Western Europe: a critical review of the existing evidence. Mediterranean Historical Review, 32(1), 25-39. doi: 10.1080/09518967.2017.1314920 (Ditrich, 2017)
Firshein, W. (2014). The Infectious Microbe. Oxford University Press.
Hasan, R. (2014). Biological Weapons: covert threats to Global Health Security. Asian Journal of Multidisciplinary Studies, 2(9). (Hasan, 2014)
Khardori, N. (Ed.). (2006). Bioterrorism Preparedness: Medicine-Public Health-Policy. John Wiley & Sons.
Koster, J. (2017). Smallpox in Blankets. Retrieved on April, 2, 2018.
Msagati, T. A. (2017). Food Forensics and Toxicology. John Wiley & Sons.
Schamiloglu, U. (2017). The Impact of the Black Death on the Golden Horde: Politics, Economy, Society, Civilization. Golden Horde Review, 5(2), 325-343. doi: 10.22378/2313-6197.2017-5-2.325-343
Török, E., Moran, E., & Cooke, F. (2016). Oxford handbook of infectious diseases and microbiology. Oxford University Press.
Vargo, M. E. (2017). The Weaponizing of Biology: Bioterrorism, Biocrime, and Biohacking. McFarland.
Walther, G., Whitby, S., Dando, M., & Novossiolova, T. (2015). Preventing Biological Threats. West Yorkshire, UK: Bradford Disarmament Research Centre.
Whyfiles.org. (2018). The long grim story of bio-war. [online] Available at: https://whyfiles.org/059bio_war/history.html [Accessed 30 Sep. 2018].

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