Biological warfare agents (BWA) have a large spectrum. They include some natural or genetically modiï¬ed bacteria, viruses, rickettsia, fungi and biological toxins. Some particular BWA can cause deterioration of materials, e.g., petroleum-eating bacteria.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the United States has categorized BWA based on the risk to national security, into three categories of A, B and C. The A group are highly toxic that pose a major risk to national security. They include: Anthrax (Bacillus anthracis), Plague (Yersinia pestis), Tularemia (Francisella tularensis) and Botulism (Clostridium botulinum toxins). The B category consists of biological agents or bio toxins whit different characteristics, ranging from a highly toxic such as ricin, to a low hazardous like staphylococcus bacteria. The C category which is called future weapon is bio-engineering made toxins .
BWA have some special properties which attract the terrorists and military services to use them as a weapon. BWA are generally easier to access and storage and less equipment’s for delivery than chemical warfare agents (CWA). The other important characteristic of BWA is the delay in onset of clinical symptoms resulting in an incubation period. The incubation periods of different agents are various from hours for Ricin, to a few days, for anthrax or plaque. This makes problems for diagnosis of source of disaster and finding the culprit.
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