Chemical and Biological Weapons

Will the human race still be in existence in fifty more years? Although likely, there is a very real possibility that we will not be here. For example, after the Gulf War, we found Saddam Hussein stockpiling Weapons of Mass Destruction. Did you know that he had enough weapons to kill every single human, dog, and cow on the face of the earth? When I found that out, I thought it was very interesting, so I decided to do a report on it. If you keep reading, you’ll find out what I’ve found out. Who funds the making of chemical or biological weapons?

The answer is many people. However?the government is the main source of money. For example, they make labs built to find defenses against new chemical or biological weapons. The catch is that in order to find new defenses, they must first build new weapons. That brings us to terrorists. Government officials make the information on how to make these weapons of mass destruction too accessible to terrorists, which eventually results in successful terrorists attacks that injure or harm many people. An example of this was in the spring of 1995 when a Japanese mafia gang set off sarin gas and killed 12 people in a subway, while injuring over fifty.

Now, you might be asking yourself, what’s the difference between chemical and biological warfare? Some major differences are when each has been used in history and / or what makes up a chemical or biological weapon. First, there’s the obvious difference of what makes up a chemical or biological weapon. Chemical weapons use chemical agents while biological weapons use bacteria from the earth and weaponizes the bacteria. While biological weapons have never been used for a modern war, they were once a very common weapon.

You see, biological weapons were used for centuries in such ways as throwing dead bodies into their enemies’ water supply to sabotage it. Chemical weapons were never used in ancient times, as they didn’t have the technology. They have however found much use in our modern world. In fact, during World War I, chemical weapons found more use than ever before. The main weapon was mustard gas, it was responsible for two percent of the total deaths during that period. The next time chemical warfare was used on a large scale was during the Vietnam War.

The main thing used was called “Agent Orange” which was used to kill off important plants, food, or livestock. If you’re wondering, “how the heck can chemicals or bacteria change my body” you would be surprised at the things they can do. For example they can cripple you (permanently or temporarily). They can paralyze you (permanently or temporarily). They can even disfigure you or turn your skin inside out. Another thing they can do, is they can immobilize one part of your body but not another; they can do this to the extent of paralyzing your index finger and your ring finger on one hand, but not harm anything else.

The delivery method for chemical or biological weapons can be artillery shells, bombs, sprays, darts, or pretty much anything that can explode, pierce the skin, or infect in some way. If in a bomb or shell, the chemicals or bacteria usually spread out after impact. On a dart, all you do is cover the tip and pierce someone else skin and they are infected. There are many different kinds of chemical and biological weapons in existence today. Here are some of the kinds of biological weapons being used today in modern science. One disease is anthrax. Anthrax is a zoonotic disease caused by Bacillus anthracis.

It has two types; cutanous which means in the skin, and inhalation which means inhaled into the lungs. Inhalation is the deadlier type of anthrax exposure. The incubation period for cutanous anthrax ranges from one to seven days which is not much different from inhalation anthrax whose incubation period ranges from one to six days. The mortality rate for cutanous anthrax without treatment is ten to twenty percent. After treatment, it drops to less than one percent. The mortality rate for inhalation anthrax without treatment is ninety to one hundred percent and is usually not diagnosed in time for treatment.

Another biological weapon is Botulinum Toxins. Botulism is caused by intoxication with any of the seven distinct neurotoxins produced by the bacillus, Clostridium botulinum. In pure form, the toxin is a white crystalline substance which is readily dissolvable in water but decays rapidly in the open air. The incubation period for inhalation botulinum ranges from one day to several days after exposure. Reported cases of botulism prior to 1950 had a mortality rate of sixty percent. With tracheotomy and ventilator assistance, fatalities should be five percent.

Initial signs and symptoms of botulinum include ptosis, generalized weakness and dizziness. Diminished salivation with extreme dryness of the mouth and throat may cause complaints of a sore throat. Urinary retention may also occur. Motor symptoms usually are present early in the disease; cranial nerves are affected first with blurred vision, diplopia, ptosis, and photophobia. Development of respiratory failure may be abrupt. Mucous membranes of the mouth may be dry and crusted. Deep tendon reflexes vary from intact to absent.

Brucellosis is next. Brucellosis is a systemic zoonotic disease caused by one of four species of bacteria: Brucella melitensis, B. abortus, B. suis, and B. canis. Fatality rates tend to decrease for humans somewhat the farther down in the order you go. Brucella canis is primarily a pathogen of dogs, and only occasionally causes disease in humans. Humans are infected when they inhale contaminated aerosols, ingest raw (unpasteurized) infected milk or meat, or have abraded skin or conjunctive surfaces that come in contact with the bacteria.

Brucellosis’ incubation period normally ranges from one to four weeks but can vary from one week to several months. Now, we have cholera. Cholera is a diarrheal disease caused by the bacteria Vibrio cholera, a short, curved, gram-negative bacillus. Humans acquire the disease by consuming water or food contaminated with the organism. The organism multiplies in the small intestine and secretes an enterotoxin that causes a secretory diarrhea. If used in a biological attack, it would most likely be used to contaminate water. Without treatment, death may result from severe dehydration or shock.

Symptoms do not include fever or abominable pain. Clostridium Perfringens Toxins is next. Clostridium perfringens is a common anaerobic bacterium associated with three distinct disease syndromes; gas gangrene or clostridial myonecrosis; enteritis necroticans (pig-bel); and clostridium food poisoning. It is difficult to imagine a general scenario in which the spores or vegetative organisms could be used as a biological warfare agent. There are, however, at least 12 protein toxins and one or more of these could be produced or concentrated and used as a weapon.

Waterborne disease is conceivable, but unlikely. Gas gangrene is a well-recognized, life-threatening emergency. Symptoms of the disease may be subtle before fulminate toxemia develops, and the diagnosis is often made at postmortem examination. Within hours signs of systemic toxicity appear, including confusion, tachycardia, and sweating. Most Clostridia species produce large amounts of CO2 and hydrogen that cause intense swelling, hence the term “gas” gangrene, resulting in gas in the soft tissues and the emission of foul-smelling gas from the wound.

Clinical features include necrosis, dark red serous fluid, and numerous gas filled vesicles. No specific treatment is available for C. pefringens intoxication. Early antibiotic treatment is effective, if undertaken before significant amounts of toxins have accumulated in the body. If not treated the bacteria enter the bloodstream causing fatal systemic illness. There is no available prophylaxis against most C. perfringens toxins. Toxoids are being used to prevent enteritis necroticans in humans, and veterinary toxoids are in wide use. Melioidosis is what I will be talking about next.

It is an infectious disease of humans and animals caused by Pseudomonas pseudomallei, a gram-negative bacillus. Melioidosis is most commonly found in southeast Asia but has been found in many different countries around the world. If someone were to employ this as a biological weapon, it would most likely be through an aerosol route. Infection by inoculation results in a subcutaneous nodule with acute lymphangitis and regional lymphadenitis, generally with fever. After melioidosis is breathed in or has been dispersed through the blood stream, pneumonia may occur.

The intensity may vary from very mild to explosive, usually involves the upper lobes, and often results in cavitation. Antibiotic regimens that have been used successfully include tetracycline, 2-3 grams per day; chloramphenicol, 3 grams per day; and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, 4 and 20 milligrams / kilograms per day. Ceftazidine and piperacillin have had moderate success in severely ill patients as well. In patients who are toxic, a combination of two antibiotics (ceftazidine and piperacillin), given is advised. Next, we have, the plague. The plague is a zoonotic disease caused by Yersinia pestis.

Under natural conditions, humans become infected as a result of contact with rodents and their fleas. Under natural conditions, three syndromes are recognized: bubonic, primary septicemia, or pneumonic. In a biological warfare scenario, the plague bacillus could be delivered via contaminated vectors (fleas) causing the bubonic type, or via aerosol causing the pneumonic type. The bubonic plague’s incubation period ranges, on average, from two to ten days. The onset of the bubonic plague is acute and often explosive with malaise, high fever, and at least one tender lymph node.

Bubonic plague may progress spontaneously to the septicemia form with organisms spread to the CNS (central nervous system), lungs (producing pneumonic disease), and elsewhere. In untreated patients, the mortality rate averages fifty percent with the fatal event being circulatory collapse, hemorrhage, and peripheral thrombosis. In primary pneumonic plague, the average incubation period is much shorter than the bubonic plagues incubation period being only two to three days. The onset is acute and explosive with malaise, high fever, chills, headache, myalgia, cough with production of a bloody sputum, and toxemia.

The pneumonia progresses rapidly, resulting in dyspnea, strider, and cyanosis. In untreated patients, the mortality is 100 percent with the fatal event being respiratory failure, circulatory collapse, and a bleeding diathesis. Plague may be spread from person to person by droplets. The quickest way to stop plague is immediate isolation. Streptomycin, tetracycline, and chloramphenicol are highly effective treatments if begun early. Significant reduction in morbidity and mortality is possible if antibiotics are given within the first 24 hours after symptoms of pneumonic plague develop.

Next in the lineup is Q fever. Q fever is a zoonotic disease caused by a rickettsia, Coxiella burnetii. The most common animal reservoirs are sheep, cattle and goats. Humans acquire the disease by inhalation of particles contaminated with the organisms. A biological warfare attack would cause disease similar to that occurring naturally. The incubation period for Q fever usually lasts ten to twenty days. Q fever generally occurs as a self-limiting febrile illness that usually lasts two days to two weeks.

Pneumonia occurs frequently, usually manifested only by an abnormal chest x-ray. A nonproductive cough and pleuritic chest pain occur in about one fourth of patients diagnosed with Q fever pneumonia. Patients usually recover uneventfully. Tularemia is next. Tularemia is a zoonotic disease caused by Francisella tularensis, a gram-negative bacillus. Humans acquire the disease under natural conditions through inoculation of skin or mucous membranes with blood or tissue fluids of infected animals, or bites of infected deerflies, mosquitoes, or ticks. A BW attack with F.

tularensis delivered by aerosol would primarily cause typhoidal tularemia, a syndrome expected to have a case fatality rate which may be higher than the five to ten percent seen when disease is acquired naturally. Smallpox is what you will learn about next. The smallpox virus, is an orthopoxvirus with a narrow host range confined to humans, was a large cause of morbidity and mortality in the developing world until recent times. Eradication of the natural disease was completed in 1977, and the last human cases (laboratory infections) occurred in 1978. The virus exists today in only two laboratory repositories in the U.S. and Russia.

Appearance of human cases outside the laboratory would signal use of the virus as a biological weapon. Under natural conditions, the virus is transmitted by direct (face-to face) contact with an infected case, by fomites, and occasionally by aerosols. Smallpox virus is highly stable and retains infectivity for long periods outside of the host. A related virus, monkeypox, clinically resembles smallpox and causes sporadic human disease in West and Central Africa. Once you’ve come in contact with smallpox, the incubation period is typically twelve days but ranges from ten days to seventeen days.

The illness begins with a prodrome (premonitory symptom) lasting two to three, with generalized malaise, fever, rigors, headache, and backache. This is followed by defervescence (fever subsidence) and the appearance of a typical skin eruption characterized by progression over seven to ten days of lesions through successive stages, from macules to papules to vesicles to pustules. The latter finally form crusts and, upon healing, leave depressed depigmented scars. The case fatality rate is approximately thirty-five percent in unvaccinated individuals. Permanent joint deformities and blindness may follow recovery.

Vaccine immunity may prevent or modify illness (vaccine invented by Louis Pasteur). Patients with smallpox should be treated by vaccinated personnel using universal precautions. Objects in contact with the patient, including bed linens, clothing, ambulance, etc. ; require disinfection by fire, steam, or sodium hypo chlorite solution. Next is Venezuelan equine encephalitis (VEE). Eight serologically distinct viruses belonging to the VEE complex have been associated with human disease; the most important of these pathogens are designated subtype 1, variants A, B and C.

These agents also cause severe disease in horses, mules, and donkeys (Equidae). To acquire VEE naturally, you must be bit by one of a large variety of different mosquitoes. In natural human epidemics, severe and often fatal encephalitis in Equidae always precedes that in humans. If this were used as a biological weapon it would most likely be delivered via aerosol and would be used to cause human disease. If VEE were present animals would also be affected badly. If delivered in a place with an equitable amount of mosquitoes, VEE could cause a serious epizootic / epidemic.

Once the one to five day incubation period of VEE is over, onset of illness is extremely sudden, with generalized malaise, spiking fever, rigors, severe headache, photophobia, myalgia in the legs and lumbosacral area. Nausea, vomiting, cough, sore throat, and diarrhea may follow. On average, this phase usually lasts one to three days. A prolonged period of asthenia (lack of strength) and lethargy (extreme laziness) may follow, with full health and activity regained only after one to two weeks.

Approximately four percent of patients during natural epidemics develop signs of central nervous system infection, with meningismus, convulsions, coma, and paralysis. These necrologic cases are seen almost exclusively in children. Next we have Congo-Crimean hemorrhagic fever (CCHF). CCHF is a viral disease caused by CCHF virus. The virus, first isolated in the Congo, is transmitted by ticks, principally of the genus Hyalomma, with intermediate vertebrate hosts varying with the tick species. The disease, next found in the Crimea, occurs also in the Middle East, the Balkans, the former USSR, and eastern China.

In 1969 it was recognized that the pathogen causing Crimean hemorrhagic fever was the same as that responsible for an illness identified in 1956 in the Congo, and linkage of the two place-names resulted in the current name for the disease and the virus. Even in epidemics, cases do not show narrow clustering and person-to-person spread is rare. CCHF would probably be delivered by aerosol if used as a biological weapons agent. The length of the incubation period for CCHF appears to depend on the mode of acquisition of the virus. Following infection via tick bite, the incubation period is usually one to three days, with a maximum of nine days.

The incubation period following contact with infected blood or tissues is usually five to six days, with a documented maximum of thirteen days. Fatal cases are associated with extensive hemorrhage, coma, and shock. Mortality among cases recognized as hemorrhagic fever is fifteen to thirty percent with death occurring in the second week of illness. Ebola. Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever is one of the most virulent viral diseases known to humankind, causing death in fifty to ninety percent of all clinically ill cases. The disease has its origins in the jungles of Africa and Asia and several different forms of Ebola virus have been identified.

The Ebola virus is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, secretions, organs or semen of infected persons. Transmission through semen may occur up to 7 weeks after clinical recovery, as with Marburg hemorrhagic fever. Health care workers have frequently been infected while attending to patients. In the 1976 epidemic in Zaire, every Ebola case caused by contaminated syringes and needles died. After an incubation period of two to twenty-one days, Ebola is often characterized by the sudden onset of fever, weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat.

This is followed by vomiting, diarrheal, rash, limited kidney and liver functions, and both internal and external bleeding. No specific treatment or vaccine exists for Ebola hemorrhagic fever. Severe cases require intensive supportive care, as patients are frequently dehydrated and in need of intravenous fluids. The Ebola virus was first identified in a western equatorial province of Sudan and in a nearby region of Zaire in 1976 after significant epidemics in Yamkubu, northern Zaire, and Nzara, southern Sudan. Between June and November 1976 the Ebola virus infected 284 people in Sudan, with 117 deaths.

In Zaire there were 318 cases and 280 deaths in September and October. An isolated case occurred in Zaire in 1977 and a second outbreak in Sudan in 1979. In 1989 and 1990, a filovirus, named Ebola-Reston, was isolated in monkeys being held in quarantine in a laboratory in Reston (Virginia), Alice (Texas) and Pennsylvania. In the Philippines, Ebola-Reston infections occurred in the quarantine area for monkeys intended for exportation, near Manila. A large epidemic occurred in Kikwit, Zaire; in 1995 with 315 cases, 244 with fatal outcomes.

One human case of Ebola hemorrhagic fever and several cases in chimpanzees were confirmed in Cote d’Ivoire in 1994-95. In Gabon, Ebola hemorrhagic fever was first documented in 1994 and recent outbreaks occurred in February 1996 and July 1996. In all, nearly 1,100 cases with 793 deaths have been documented since the virus was discovered. The natural reservoir of the Ebola virus seems to reside in the rain forests of Africa and Asia but has not yet been identified. Next on our list of biological weapons is Ricin. Ricin is a glycoprotein toxin from the seed of the castor plant.

It blocks protein synthesis by altering the rRNA, thus killing the cell. Ricin’s significance as a potential biological warfare agent relates to its availability world wide, its ease of production, and extreme pulmonary toxicity when inhaled. Next is RVF; Rift Valley Fever. RVF is a viral disease caused by RVF virus. The virus circulates in sub-Saharan Africa as a mosquito-borne agent. Epizootics occur when susceptible domestic animals are infected, and because of the large amount of virus in their serum, amplify infection to biting arthropods.

The incubation period averages two to five days and is usually followed by an incapacitating febrile illness of similar duration. The typical symptoms are fever, conjunctival injection, and sometimes abdominal tenderness. A few petechiae (a minute reddish or purplish spot containing blood that appears in skin or mucous membrane especially in some infectious diseases) or a bloody nose may occur. A small proportion of cases (approximately one percent) will progress to a viral hemorrhagic fever syndrome; mortality in this group is roughly fifty percent. Saxitoxin is next. Saxitoxin is the parent compound of a family of chemically related neurotoxins.

In nature they are predominantly produced by marine dinoflagellates, although they have also been identified in association with such diverse organisms as blue-green algae, crabs, and the blue-ringed octopus. Human intoxications are principally due to ingestion of bivalve mollusks which have accumulated dinoflagellates during filter feeding. The resulting intoxication, known as paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP), is known throughout the world as a severe, life threatening illness requiring immediate medical intervention. In a BW scenario, the most likely route of delivery is by inhalation or toxic projectile.

In addition, saxitoxin could be used in a confined area to contaminate water supplies. No vaccine against saxitoxin exposure has been developed for human use. Staphylococcal Enterotoxin B (SEB) is next. SEB is one of several exotoxins produced by Staphylococcus aureus, causing food poisoning when ingested. A BW attack with aerosol delivery of SEB to the respiratory tract produces a distinct syndrome causing significant morbidity and potential mortality. The disease begins one to six hours after exposure with the sudden onset of fever, chills, headache, myalgia, and nonproductive cough.

In more severe cases, dyspnea and retrosternal chest pain may also be present. A fever, which may reach 103-106° F could last two to five days. However, cough may persist one to four weeks. In many patients nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea will also occur. The final biological weapon that you will learn about is Trichothecene Mycotoxins. The trichothecene mycotoxins are a diverse group of more than 40 compounds produced by fungi. They are potent inhibitors of protein synthesis, impair DNA synthesis, alter cell membrane structure and function, and inhibit mitochondrial respiration.

Secondary metabolizes of fungi, such as T-2 toxin and others, produce toxic reactions called mycotoxicoses upon inhalation or consumption of contaminated food products by humans or animals. Naturally occurring trichothecenes have been identified in agricultural products and have been implicated in a disease of animals known as moldy corn toxicosis or poisoning. Consumption of these mycotoxins results in weight loss, vomiting, skin inflammation, bloody diarrhea, diffuse hemorrhage, and possibly death.

The onset of illness following acute exposure to T-2 (IV or inhalation) occurs in hours, resulting in the rapid onset of circulatory shock characterized by reduced cardiac arrest, arterial hypotension, lactic acidosis and death within twelve hours. Now onto chemical weapons. Chemical weapons are not classified in the same way as biological weapons. In Chemical warfare, there are different types of agents which are given names and classified as a blood agent, nerve agent, pulmonary agent, or blister / vesicant agent. I will be talking about the different classes of agent while giving some examples.

First, nerve agents. Right now, there are eight known nerve agents: Tabun, Sarin, Soman, Methylphosphonothioic acid, Cyclohexyl Methylphosphonofluridate, Phosphonofluoridic acid, Phosphonothioic acid, and Amiton. Some health effects that may occur after a nerve agent attack include disabled enzymes that are responsible for transmitting nerve impulses, irreversible / reversible nerve damage, and even death, depending on the agent, within fifteen minutes. Here are two examples of what nerve agents can do. Sarin is an organophosphorous ester compound that produces potent and irreversible inhibition of cholinesterase.

It is toxic to the nervous system and is a chemical warfare agent. The other example is of Soman. Soman is an organophosphorus compound that inhibits cholinesterase. It causes seizures and has been used as a chemical warfare agent. Now we have blister / vesicant agents. This class of agent has the ability to cause skin blisters or damage eyes, mucous membranes, respiratory tract, and internal organs. Initial effects usually occur very rapidly after exposure. They can also destroy different substances within cells of living tissue. In these cases, initial effects occur twelve to twenty-four hours after exposure.

There is a possibility of death if complications from a lung injury occur. An example of this type of agent is dichloroformoxine. If exposed to the chemical agent called dichloroformoxine, you would most likely be induced to urticaria. However, your guinea pig can get it also. Onto pulmonary agents. Liquid pulmonary agents are almost always dispersed in gas form and can damage the respiratory tract causing severe pulmonary edema in about four hours, leading to eventual death. Effects are variable but are either rapid or delayed: depending on what agent was used.

Two examples of pulmonary agents that can or have been used as a chemical weapon are CG phosgene and C1 chlorine. CG phosgene is a highly toxic gas that has been used as a chemical warfare agent. It is an insidious poison, as it is not irritating immediately, even when fatal concentrations are inhaled. C1 chlorine is a greenish-yellow, diatomic gas that is a member of the halogen family of elements. It has the atomic symbol Cl, atomic number seventeen, and atomic weight 70. 906. It is a powerful irritant that can cause fatal pulmonary edema.

Chlorine is used in manufacturing, as a reagent in synthetic chemistry, for water purification, and in the production of chlorinated lime, which is used in fabric bleaching. Finally, our last chemical agent class: blood agents. Blood agents are very dangerous in that besides being highly volatile, they act very rapidly, can cause seizures, result in cardiac arrest, and can cause respiratory failure. An example of one blood agent is Hydrogen cyanide (HCN). HCN is a toxic liquid or colorless gas. It is found in the smoke of various tobacco products and released by combustion of nitrogen-containing organic materials.

Now, if you’re like me, you’re wondering: is a chemical weapon or a biological weapon is more deadly and why? Well, after seeing what kinds of chemical and biological weapons there are and what each can do, it’s your opinion. After all, both have many different purposes. Also, some weapons are deadly but don’t cover a large area while others go over a larger area infecting more people. If someone were to repeat 9/11, but with the plane coated in smallpox or some other disease, the death and injury toll would be much higher.

It would result in mass infection (especially if contagious), and besides a higher death and injury toll, many people would be disabled. So as you can see from my report, both chemical and biological weapons are very dangerous. They can do almost anything and can be spread almost anywhere. Not only that but the number of different kinds of weapons is only growing. Is a chemical or biological war coming up? I hope not, because we have the power to easily eliminate the human race along with everything else.

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