Bioterrorism

Bioterrorism

Bioterrorism is the use or threatened use of viruses, bacteria, or other agents as weapons to cause harm to people, plants, or animals. These can be deployed several ways; some can spread from person-to-person while others cannot, but all acts of bioterrorism can cause an increased, delayed surge of sick people in a large area, can be very difficult to detect, and incite fear in the community. 

Bioterrorism agents are generally divided into three separate groups: A, B and C. Agents in these groups have specific characteristics that lead to their classification. 

Category A Agents include: Anthrax, Botulism, Plague, Smallpox, Tularemia, and Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers. These have the following characteristics: 

  • Can be easily disseminated or transmitted person-to-person
  • Result in high mortality rates and have the potential for major public health impact
  • Cause panic and social disruption 
  • Require special attention for public health preparedness

Category B Agents include: Brucellosis, Epsilon toxin of Clostridium perfringens, Glanders, Meliodosis, Psittacosis, Q Fever, Ricin toxin, Staphylococcal enterotoxin B, Typhus Fever, Viral encephalitis, and other water and food safety threats. These have the following characteristics: 

  • Moderately easy to disseminate
  • Results in moderate morbidity rates and low mortality rates
  • require enhanced disease surveillance activity, efforts, and equipment 

Category C Agents include: Nipah Virus, Hantavirus, Tickborne viral hemorrhagic fevers, Tickborne encephalitis, Yellow Fever, and Multidrug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis. These have the following characteristics: 

  • Easily available
  • Easily produced and spread
  • Have potential for high morbidity and mortality rates and major public health impact

Useful Links and More Information: 

Click Here for a video from the Bipartisan Policy Center on Bio-and Agrosecurity 

Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) bioterrorism page.