Agents of Bioterrorism

Agents of Bioterrorism: Pathogens and Their Weaponization

Geoffrey Zubay
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 376
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/zuba13346
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  • Book Info
    Agents of Bioterrorism
    Book Description:

    This new work offers a clear and thorough account of the threats posed by bioterrorism from the perspective of biologists. The authors examine thirteen disease-causing agents, including those responsible for anthrax, the plague, smallpox, influenza, and SARS. Each chapter considers a particular pathogen from the standpoint of its history, molecular biology, pathology, clinical presentation, diagnosis, weaponization, and defenses. The book also examines strategies for making vaccines and protecting the population in a bioterror attack.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-51813-0
    Subjects: History, General Science, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Geoffrey Zubay
  4. LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. CHAPTER 1 TERRORISM AND FEAR: HOW TO COPE
    (pp. 1-4)
    Geoffrey Zubay

    Fear is the currency of terrorism. It comes in a variety of forms: fear of dying, fear of being crippled, fear of the unknown. To reassure Americans in a day of confusion after the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt said they had nothing to fear but fear itself. Because ignorance and insecurity are prime ingredients of fear, the more we know about a particular terrorist event the lower its fear potential is likely to be and the sooner we are likely to find a constructive solution.

    This book is dedicated to presenting a comprehensive picture of what bioterrorism is...

  6. CHAPTER 2 VIRAL ENCEPHALITIS (FLAVIVIRUSES)
    (pp. 5-26)
    Salwa Touma

    The viral genus Flavivirus is a very serious public health threat. Twenty-two of the 34 mosquito-borne flaviviruses cause human disease.² In some strains, the flavivirus enters the brain’s blood vessels and nerves and causes brain inflammation, which is known as encephalitis.³ In the most severe cases, this inflammation may cause debilitating irreversible nerve damage, brain tumors, and death.⁴ The lethality of encephalitis can be as high as 37%, although it varies by strain.³

    There are some prophylactic measures against viral encephalitis and one synthetically created acyclic nucleoside analog, Acyclovir,1–3 and many companies are working to develop a vaccine. However,...

  7. CHAPTER 3 BOTULISM (CLOSTRIDIUM BOTULINUM)
    (pp. 27-42)
    Rian Balfour

    The bacteria Clostridium botulinum produces a toxin (botulinum neurotoxin) that causes the neuroparalytic disease known as botulism. Botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT)—the agent of botulinum—is the most poisonous substance known. It has been cited as 100,000 to 3 million times more potent than the nerve gas sarin, which is considered one of the most dangerous chemical weapons and was the predominant chemical weapon used in World War II. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) categorize BoNT as a Category A bioweapon threat because of its tremendous potency and lethality, relative ease of production and transport, and the need...

  8. CHAPTER 4 TULAREMIA (FRANCISELLA TULARENSIS)
    (pp. 43-58)
    James Hudspeth

    Francisella tularensis, the bacterium causing the disease tularemia, has been a subject of biological weapons research since World War II, and was developed into a deployable weapon by both sides during the Cold War. It occurs infrequently in nature, infecting humans through contact with infected animals, bites from infected insects, inhalation of aerosolized substances such as rodent droppings, and the consumption of contaminated food and water. Although the disease can be readily treated with basic antibiotics, reducing the frequency of fatalities to around 2.5% from the preantibiotic mortality rate of 50%, its extreme infectivity and virulence mean that it remains...

  9. CHAPTER 5 EBOLA VIRUSES
    (pp. 59-78)
    Rohit Puskoor and Geoffrey Zubay

    The viral family Filoviridiae represents one of the most serious threats to public health in the twenty-first century. Filoviruses are the causative agent for viral hemorrhagic fevers, so named because of the high fevers and profuse bleeding caused by the viruses. This family of viruses encompasses the Ebola viruses and the Marburg virus. The most well known of the viruses is Ebola Zaire, an extremely devastating strain of Ebola that causes the most fatal of the fevers, with a fatality rate upward of 90%.

    There is currently no prophylactic treatment against the Ebola virus. The concern is compounded by our...

  10. CHAPTER 6 INFLUENZA VIRUS
    (pp. 79-106)
    Rian Balfour

    Influenza virus (IV) causes the respiratory disease known as influenza (“the flu”). The virus infects 10 to 20% of the U.S. population yearly. Of those infected, approximately 114,000 are hospitalized and 20,000 die due to influenza and/or complications caused by the virus. Despite these overwhelming statistics of infection and mortality, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not classify IV as a bioterrorism threat. However, the characteristics of the virus do indeed render it a likely, but highly ignored, germ weapon threat. A pathogen that kills more people than the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), claimed the lives of...

  11. CHAPTER 7 HANTAVIRUS
    (pp. 107-128)
    Payal Shah

    The genus Hantavirus, of the viral family Bunyaviridae, currently encompasses more than 20 genotypic variants; it is thought that other, as yet unidentified strains also exist. Hantaviruses are transmitted by rodents in the family Muridae. Hantavirus strains can be categorized into those that cause hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) and those that are the etiological agents of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS).

    HFRS and HPS differ primarily in terms of target organ and disease severity. Occurrences of HFRS have been localized to Europe and Asia, where hundreds of thousands of cases each year yield a case fatality rate of up...

  12. CHAPTER 8 ANTHRAX (BACILLUS ANTHRACIS)
    (pp. 129-172)
    Anuj Mehta

    Bacillus anthracis (anthrax) is an organism that is of prime importance when considering bioterrorism issues. It is considered one of the most dangerous and most likely agents that would be used in a bioterrorist attack. When deprived of nutrients, the bacteria revert to a dormant spore form that is able to withstand a great deal of environmental stress. As such, the spores are the optimal agent for biological weapons purposes.

    B. anthracis, though, is a naturally occurring bacterium found in the soil in most parts of the world. It has historically been linked to several animal and human epidemics, although...

  13. CHAPTER 9 SEVERE ACUTE RESPIRATORY SYNDROME (SARS)
    (pp. 173-197)
    Joseph Patrick Ward and Maria E. Garrido

    As of early 2003, people thought that a new virus spreading throughout the world faster than the Internet could happen only in bad dreams or modern science-fiction movies. Then we learned about SARS-CoV, the virus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). Less than 7 months after it was first reported, SARS had taken the lives of approximately 800 people and infected a total of more than 8400 people worldwide.

    SARS-CoV belongs to the family of coronaviruses. The coronaviruses (order Nidovirales, family Coronaviridae, genus Coronavirus) are members of a family of large, enveloped, positive-sense, single-stranded RNA viruses that replicate in...

  14. CHAPTER 10 PLAGUE (YERSINIA PESTIS)
    (pp. 198-228)
    Barbara Chubak

    In October 1347, a Genoese fleet landed in the harbor of Messina, in northeast Sicily. Every member of its crew was dead or dying, afflicted with a mysterious disease from the East. Rumors of the pestilence had reached the major European seaports in previous months and the harbormasters quickly tried to quarantine the fleet, but to no avail. Rats from the ships carried the disease to Messina and its environs, where the pestilence spread: within 6 months, half the region’s population either died or fled. This fleet, together with others carrying pestilence along trade routes to ports throughout Eurasia and...

  15. CHAPTER 11 SMALLPOX (VARIOLA VIRUS)
    (pp. 229-251)
    Rohit Puskoor and Geoffrey Zubay

    Prior to the mid-twentieth century, smallpox was one of the most dreaded diseases. Even if you recovered, your face and body were covered with pockmarks for the rest of your life. It was extremely infectious from one human to another and one of the most lethal diseases in circulation. Vaccines were first introduced against smallpox, and they were enormously effective almost from the very beginning. Vaccinia virus is currently used to make vaccine against variola virus, the virus that causes human smallpox. Except in very rare cases, the vaccinia-derived vaccine has no adverse reactions in humans. Because poxviruses tend to...

  16. CHAPTER 12 CHOLERA (VIBRIO CHOLERAE)
    (pp. 252-276)
    Rohit Puskoor

    Vibrio cholerae is the causative agent of the gastrointestinal disease cholera, noted for its characteristic dehydration and massive diarrhea. The disease devastated the world’s populations in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, causing major pandemics. Although vaccines and therapeutic measures have since been developed, the disease is still a public health problem in parts of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, where health care is poor and extreme poverty precludes adequate medical care and preventive measures. An epidemic in central Africa in 1994 and 1995 presented case fatality rates as high as 30% in areas where medical facilities were limited.

    Clinical...

  17. CHAPTER 13 SALMONELLA
    (pp. 277-294)
    Kira Morser, Rohit Puskoor and Geoffrey Zubay

    Bacteria of the genus Salmonella account for the majority of food poisoning cases in the United States, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimating 1.4 million cases annually. It is a rod-shaped, gram-negative, facultative anaerobe that infects a wide variety of organisms, from lizards to humans. The main feature of salmonella pathogenesis is the type III secretion system (TTSS), a needle-like multiprotein complex that delivers toxic proteins to host cells. One of these proteins, SopB, causes the diarrhea characteristic of salmonella disease.

    Salmonella infection results in either typhoid fever (if the individual is infected by the typhi...

  18. APPENDIX 1 DRUG DISCOVERY AND BIODEFENSE
    (pp. 295-308)
    William Edstrom and Geoffrey Zubay
  19. APPENDIX 2 THE SEARCH FOR VACCINES
    (pp. 309-324)
    William Edstrom
  20. APPENDIX 3 PERSONAL BIODEFENSES
    (pp. 325-326)
    Geoffrey Zubay
  21. APPENDIX 4 INFORMATION RESOURCES ON BIOTERRORISM
    (pp. 327-336)
    Kathleen Kehoe
  22. GLOSSARY
    (pp. 337-350)
  23. INDEX
    (pp. 351-364)