A biological weapon uses a living organism (as a disease germ) or its toxic product. To have a biological weapon as a weapon you need three things. First you need an agent. Second you need a delivery device – the most effective delivery of a biological weapon is via aerosol . And third you need a vaccine to vaccinate your own troops and your own people. Delivery devices can be traditional military items such as artillery shells, bombs, missiles and aerosol sprayers. Yet biological weapons can also use less conventional means of delivery. In the extreme this can be anything that can carry a virus such as an animal. A very small quantity of a biological toxin can be used in a weapon to lethal effect. SOURCES: Jeffrey K. Smart, History of Biological and Chemical Warfare: An American Perspective , accessed: <http://www.usuhs.mil/cbw/history.htm>. Photo courtesy of New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (http://www.mfat.govt.nz/foreign/dis/chembioindex.html)
11 This diagram shows a cross-section of an aerial bomb as used as a delivery device for a biological weapon. The bomb includes thin fragile aluminium cylinders filled with nitrogen under pressure to create an aerosol and release organisms when the bomb lands.
Biological terrorism can be defined as the use of biological agents to intentionally produce disease or intoxication in human, animal, or plant populations in order to meet terrorist aims. The great fear of bioterrorism stems in part from the prospect of the recurrence of diseases we have believed to be conquered or at least controlled.
From the epidemiologic perspective, indicators of a potential bioterrorism event include a tight cluster of cases, high attack rate amongst the exposed, geographic correlates of exposure, an “exotic” disease for the area, for example a plague case in Minnesota who had no natural exposures, unusual clinical presentation, symptoms present at an unusual time of year - for example, a lot of patients presenting with flu-like symptoms in the middle of summer, and evidence of unusual disease or deaths in animals.
This is a picture of the Bhagwan Shri Rajneesh (“BAA-gwahn SHREE Rahj-NEESH”), leader of a religious cult near the town of The Dalles, Oregon. In 1984, members of the Rajneeshee (“Rahj-NEE-shee”) cult intentionally contaminated restaurant salad bars in Oregon with Salmonella typhimurium. Over 750 persons were infected, and 40 hospitalized. Fortunately there were no fatalities. The act was a dry-run of a plan to influence the outcome of a local election. The cult members planned to infect enough of the population so that they would be unable to vote thus enabling the cult members to vote themselves into office. Despite their creative attempts at democracy, they still lost the election. Since naturally occurring outbreaks of Salmonella typhimurium occur frequently, it was difficult to prove this incident occurred intentionally. The cause of this outbreak wasn’t known until one of the cult members confessed to the plot over a year after the outbreak occurred.
The doomsday religious cult Aum Shinrikyo launched at least 10 bio- and chemical-weapons attacks in Japan before actually causing illness. In 1995, cult members placed plastic bags containing the deadly nerve gas sarin on trains in the Tokyo subway. The bags were punctured by a cult member with an umbrella tip causing the gas to be released, spreading throughout the car. The cult members then quickly exited the train. At the end of the day, 15 subway systems had been affected, 12 persons died, 3,800 were injured, and scores of worried well overwhelmed the medical system.
This map made by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in the United States shows the geographic locations of the biological weapons held by states in 2005. SOURCES: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2005, accessed: < http://www.carnegieendowment.org/images/npp/bio.jpg>.
Introduction and History ofBiological Warfare Agents Dr Kamran Afzal Classified Pathologist and Microbiologist
Al-Quran 17 : 53When We Bestow Favours on Man, He Turns his Back and Holds Aloof.But when Evil Befalls him, He Grows Despondent!
Types of Biowarfare Agents Bacteria Cause disease by reproducing Single cell organism Typhus, anthrax Viruses Anthrax Multiply only inside host cells Sub-microscopic organisms Ebola, Chikungunya Ebola
Rickettsia Larger than viruses Smaller than bacteria From fleas, lice and ticks Q-fever Toxins Poisons from living things Botulinum most lethal known : <10-6 g But some beneficial uses
Key Production Techniques - BTW AgentsType of agent Low-tech production Hi-tech productionBacteria Batch fermentation, Genetically engineered production in animals strains, continuous- flow fermentationRickettsiae and Viruses Cultivation in eggs, mouse Culture in mammalian cells brains, or tissue culture and grown on beadsProtein toxins Batch fermentation and Cloning of toxin gene in purification of a bacterial microbial host, extraction toxin, or extraction of toxin of toxin from a plant or animal sourceNon-protein toxins Extraction from plant or Cloning of a series of animal source genes, each governing production of one of the enzymes needed to complete a step in the biosynthetic pathway
Production of Biological Agentsby Fermentation
What Is a Biological Weapon? Uses a living organism or its toxic agent Delivery device Both conventional and unconventional means of delivery MAPW (Australia) Bio & Chem Weapons 2006
A PRIMITIVE BIOLOGICAL WEAPON DELIVERY DEVICE - Aerial Bomb Explosive Thin fragile aluminium cylinders filled with nitrogen under pressure to create an aerosol and release organisms when the bomb lands MAPW (Australia) Bio & Chem Weapons 2006
Biological Warfare (BW) Biological Warfare (BW) is defined as ‘Intentional or threatened use of viruses, bacteria, fungi, or toxins from living organisms to produce death or disease in humans, animals, or plants’ BW agents can cause widespread casualties with minimal logistic requirements BW agents are easy to produce, economical for deployment, selective to the target Cost of 50% casualties per meter square is “US$ 1” as compared to conventional weapons (US$ 2000), nuclear armaments (US$ 800), chemical agents (US$ 600)
Biological Warfare- A deadly mystery Man-made Epidemic of unprecedented scale Wide spread morbidity High mortality with minimum logistics Easy availability of agents from: a. Universities b. Biological Research Organizations c. Biological Production Units d. Clinical specimens Easy deployment through simple aerosol devices Incubation period of the BW agent
Biological Terrorism Use of biological agents to intentionally produce disease or intoxication in susceptible populations – humans, animals, or plants ‘to meet terrorist aims’ Biological agents are much deadlier than chemical agents Estimated 10 grams of anthrax could kill as many people as a ton of the nerve agent Sarin
Features of Bioterrorism Weapon: Microbe or toxin Strike: Premeditated Goals: Political, religious, ideological Motivation: Fear, disruption, instability Molecular Biology and Genetic Engineering have enabled scientists to increase the virulence, develop antibiotic resistant strains, and create novel strains for which population lacks immunity
Biological Terrorism? Epidemiologic Clues Tight cluster of cases High infection rate Unusual or localized geography Unusual clinical presentation Unusual time of year Dead animals
The Potential of BioterrorismAgent Lethal infective doses in 5mlsCyanide 50Mustard gas 100Sarin 5,000Botulinum toxin 1,000,000Anthrax 50,000,000,Tularemia 50,000 x 106
Worst case scenario- WHO Estimates, 1970A release of 50 kg agent in an area with population 5 million…. Anthrax 250,000 cases 100,000 deaths Plague 150,000 cases 36,000 deaths Tularemia 250,000 cases 19,000 deaths
Threats… Naturally occuring outbreaks – pandemic influenza Small intentional outbreaks Inadvertant outbreaks – research labs Large scale attack New encounters – Legionella, Monkeypox New organisms – SARS, Nipah virus Limited Anthrax Letters Scary, but very small risk to a small number of people
Preparation for BW Defense Strong Intelligence Strict Bio-Security Advance Inoculation (Army and Scientists) Extended Scientific Research (Public Sector) Creation of Awareness (Service and Medical) Personal Protection of Masses
Awareness to the use of protective agents/devices like respirator MOPP Device (Mission Oriented Protective Posture – battle dress over garment) Extension of genetic engineering Scientific vigilance through internet Continuous monitoring/surveillance in the field of air bacteriology/virology etc
Dr. Luke Blackburn, future governor of Kentucky - War between the States 1879-83He attempted to infect clothing with smallpox andyellow fever and then sell it to unsuspecting Union troops
Japanese Tests with BW agents 1932-1945More than 1,000 of Chinese, Koreans, Mongolian,Soviet, American, British, and Australian prisoners wereestimated to have died in experiments by the Japanesewith agents causing anthrax, botulism, brucellosis,cholera, dysentery, gas gangrene, and plague - Unit 731
British trials with B. anthraciswere held on Gruinard Island, Scotland 1941-42
US Army established BW researchstation - Camp Detrick 1943-1969 Operationalized 7 months later By Jan 1944, field station for Horu Island was functional By 1969, US Dept of Defense completed study on fol BW agents Incapacitating agents Rickettsia, RVFV and VEE virus Lethal agents Yellow fever virus, Bacillus anthracis, Rickettsia rickettsiae, Yersinia pestis
Umbrella gun to assassinate Bulgarianexile Georgi Markov - London 1978 A pellet was designed to contain Ricin toxin
The Rajneeshee cult 1984Salmonella in Oregon restaurants - 751 cases
Aum Shinrikyo cult- Tokyo Subway 1995Sarin Gas Attack, Tokyo Subway- 12 killed; 5,000 injured
Iraqi Biological Warfare Program 1995 166 bombs 100 botulinum toxin, 50 anthrax, 16 aflatoxin 25 Scud missile warheads 13 botulinum toxin, 10 anthrax, 2 aflatoxin 122-mm rockets filled with Anthrax, botulinum toxin, and aflatoxin Spray tanks capable of being fitted to a fighter aircraft or remotely piloted aircraft, and spraying 2,000 L
Anthrax Bioterrorism 1998 San Francisco Chronicle, 20 December 1998
Anthrax through post - US 200122 Cases: 5 deaths, 11 inhalational, 11 cutaneous
NBC Events since 1970 March 1995 Sarin 12 Dead, 5500 Affected May 1995 April Plague 1997 1984 U235 1972 June 1994 February 1997 Salmonella SarinTyphoid Chlorine 200 Injured 7 Dead, 200 Injured 14 Injured, 500 Evacuated 2001 Anthrax 5 dead ??? Injured 1992 June Cyanide 1996 1984 Botulinum March 1995 Uranium Ricin December 1995 1985 April Ricin Cyanide 1995 Sarin November 1995 Radioactive April-June 1995 Cesium Cyanide, Phosgene, Pepper Spray
Pakistan’s Stance On Biowarfare Pakistan is a signatory nation of “The Biological Toxin Weapons (BTW) Convention of 1972” Signed by 158 nations US has rejected enforcement Convention abstract: The prohibition of the development, production, stockpiling, and destruction of bacteriologic and toxin weapons Required to submit information annually to the United Nations concerning facilities where biological defense research is being conducted
Pakistan’s Experience of Bioterrorism A total of 230 suspected samples of Anthrax from 194 sources were analyzed for anthrax spores at NIH from Nov 2001 to March 2002 71 samples were from clinical specimens (anterior nares, skin, blood) 159 were from non-clinical environmental samples (powders, swabs from inanimate objects, papers, envelopes, packages, plastics etc) The samples were received from Foreign mission, media organizations, banks, government institutions, universities, hospitals and individuals
Out of these, 141 samples yielded growth suggestive of Bacillus species On the basis of colony morphology, Gram’s stain and other preliminary laboratory tests 62 isolates were found suspicious for B. anthracis, however all the samples were negative by animal inoculation The suspected anthrax parcel/letter bombs in Pakistan during the investigation period were hoaxes
Challenges in Pakistan Smart detection, field preparedness Would require quick military intervention Vaccination drives—cheaper to prevent Limited funding: un-smart intelligence Collaborative programs—funds not available Need dynamic consolidated vision Don’t know where to look for
Current Stockpiles MAPW (Australia) Bio & Chem Weapons 2006
Conclusions For continuous surveillance and monitoring of important strategic, tactical and containment areas, and with the rapid advancement in the field of genetic engineering and biotechnology and possibility of use of genetically modified BW agents, it is essential to acquire/ use advanced early detection devices at national level - in addition to gold standard conventional microbiological methods for rapid and quick response Plan ahead smartly, and be prepared to move quickly and decisively Communication, data integration and timely delivery of data analysis to decision-makers is crucial
Albert Einstein ‘I Know Not, What the Third World War would be Fought with, but the Fourth World War will be Fought with Sticks and Stones!’