THE THREAT : IS IT REAL?
By Manuel Cereijo
The World Health Organization warned the nation, in a report released Monday, Sepember24, 2001, to prepare for the possibility of a biological attack. The magnitude of possible impacts on civilian populations of their use or threatened use obliges governments both to seek prevention and to prepare response plans, said the WHO's report. The report also stated, "there are agents out there that if they were used in an area where there were millions of people, could infect a great number of them.
The vulnerability to biological agents exists chiefly because of present inability to detect their presence in time for prompt masking or sheltering. Michael Osterholm, state epidemiologist at the Minnesota Department of Health stated this week that the United States is unprepared to deal with attacks with biological weapons. We live in a new world order, biological weapons have been developed and will be delivered, he said.
He continued, "We are talking about the difference between what we saw in New York City, where it was a horrible situation with more than 6,000 fatalities but the medical team wasn't overwhelmed because there were only 4,000 to 5,000 wounded people. Imagine now 100,000, 200,000, 300,000 people presenting for medical care in the New York medical system. That's what biological weapons can do and that's
What are bioweapons?Biological weapons contain living bacterial or viral organisms, or toxins produced by them. The toxins are generally the most lethal and act the quickest, producing incapacitation or death within minutes or hours. Bacterial and viral pathogens require an incubation period of 24 hours to 6 weeks before the appearance of symptoms. Bacterial agents include anthrax, meloidosis, pneumonic plague and glanders. Viral agents include smallpox, yellow fever, equine encephalitis and influenza. Toxins include botulinum toxin, ricin, and mycotoxins. TARGETS The main potential targets of biological weapons include troop concentrations, logistic centers, command and control posts, air bases, ports, key infrastructure installations (such as oil and power facilities and desalination plants) and civilian population centers. Biological warfare would be particularly useful against large ships that can withstand multiple conventional hits, such as U.S. aircraft carriers. DELIVERY The CDC has identified these six biological agents as the highest risk to national security: Anthrax Background: A government study estimated that about 200 pounds of anthrax released upwind of Washington, D.C. could kill up to 3 million people. The disease is not contagious. Effects: Early symptoms include fever, malaise, cough, respiratory distress. Shock and death can follow within 36 hours. Treatment : If given early enough, antibiotics can prevent exposed people from falling sick. The vaccine is reserved for military use BOTULINUM TOXINS Background: The single most poisonous variety is typically food borne, but it could also be developed as an aerosol weapon. Effects: Initial symptoms, such as blurred vision and difficulty swallowing and speaking, take effect in 24 to 36 hours. The nerve toxin paralyzes muscles, leading to respiratory failure and death. SMALLPOX Background: This highly contagious disease killed more than 500 million people in the 20th century before vaccinations eradicated it in 1977. Vaccinations stopped in 1980 Effects: Early symptoms like fever, headache and nausea occur for about 12 days. A Chickenpox-like rash spreads across the body, hardening into blisters. Thirty five percent of victims die. Treatment: None. It can be prevented. However, there are only 7.5 million vaccines in the United States PLAGUE (PNEUMONIC AND BUBONIC) Effects: Symptoms occur within one to six days after inhaling the pneumonic form. High fever, cough, and labored breathing lead to respiratory failure and death. Treatment: Rapid use of antibiotics can be effective. A vaccine is not currently available TULAREMIA Effects: Fever, chills, headache and weakness occur in three to five days. Resulting inflammation and hemorrhaging of the airways can lead to death. Treatment: Without antibiotics, one-third of those infected die. VIRAL HEMORRAHAGIC FEVERS Effects: Fever, muscle aches, diarrhea occur in 3 to 5 days. Fluids hemorrhage out of tissues and orifices. 40 to 90 percent of victims die. Treatment: some antiviral drugs. In short supply SARIN Odorless nerve gas. Kills within minutes. VX Odorless agent resembling motor oil. Organs stop functioning. Muscles paralyzed. Deadlier than SarinAntidote must go directly to the heart HOSTILE COUNTRIES The following hostile countries have been "classified" as probable producers of bioweapons by U.S. intelligence sources: China; Cuba; Iran; Iraq; Libya; North Korea; Syria End Manuel Cereijo INGMCA@aol.com
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