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Bioterrorism

Related Terms

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Background

  • Terrorism is the use of threats or violence to achieve political, social, or religious goals. Terrorism may be created by individuals or organizations, and may target civilians, political groups, or other organizations. Bioterrorism, also known as biological warfare or biological attack, is described by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a type of terrorism involving the intentional release of biological agents, such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, or toxins (poisonous substances) from living organisms that brings about illness or death in human beings, animals, or plants. Viruses, bacteria, and fungi are tiny, disease-causing, microscopic organisms that can spread from person to person through air, water, food, or soil. Biological toxins are poisonous substances produced by living cells or organisms, which are capable of causing disease or death.
  • The biological agents used for bioterrorism are known as bioweapons (BW) or bio arms. These agents may be in their natural form, or may be genetically manipulated to increase their disease-causing ability (virulence), resistance to the currently available drugs, or to increase their ability to disperse easily into the environment.
  • Biological agents may cause serious harm if used as bioweapons, especially if they are highly contagious (spread easily from person to person). Other characteristics, such as environmental stability, easy dispersion, and resistance to currently available drugs, may increase the risk of damage caused by a particular agent. Bioweapons have the potential to cause high morbidity (incidence of disease) and mortality (number of deaths), and even panic in public and health care workers.
  • The onset of illness from these agents is often late and takes several hours or days to show disease-specific symptoms. This may make it difficult to identify the timing and location of the bioterror attack. For instance, Francisella tularensis (tularemia-causing bacterium) causes acute, non-specific feverish illness after three to five days of exposure, and the actual disease symptoms, such as pneumonia, develop later.
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Technique

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Theory/Evidence

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Health Impact/Safety

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Future Research or Applications

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.