Possibility of biological warfare after US attacks
There is a real threat of increased biological and chemical warfare after the attack on the World Trade Centre in New York on September 11, warns the World Health Organisation (WHO).
In a recent address to public health officials, the head of the WHO warned governments to prepare for the eventuality of biological warfare in case the terrorist attacks lead to more strife. Biological warfare is a war tactic where weapons carrying disease producing germs or micro-organisms or their products are introduced into the environment of the particular region under attack. The disease spreads rapidly within the community causing widespread damage to life.
Biological warfare as a method of war was prohibited in 1925 by the Geneva Convention. Although such methods were used in earlier wars, since the treaty no country has used this method of warfare. During World War II, the Japanese subjected Chinese prisoners to experimental doses of deadly viruses, killing all of them. Though all countries had agreed not to make biological weapons anymore, experts are worried that a lot of research in new and more sophisticated biological weapon systems is still going on in some countries.
The diseases that have the maximum chances of being spread in this way are anthrax, small pox, plague, botulism, salmonellosis and encephalitis. In biological warfare, the disease causing germs are spread through crop-spraying aircraft, ballistic missiles and other weapons in a desired area. All people who inhale the infected air/water and who do not have prior immunity to the disease are at risk of getting infected. Since most of these diseases have been eradicated, there are very few people who may have immunity against them and thus the risk of large-scale destruction is immense.
The worst fear according to experts is that most of the gene mapping details have been made public now. In such a scenario, it is easy for unscrupulous microbiologists to produce virulent strains of the virus or bacteria that cause some of these diseases. Such forms of micro-organisms may also be resistant to the existing treatment. The health hazard that such developments pose are immense and should not be taken lightly, especially in the wake of increased terrorism that is holding the world hostage.
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