Agents of Bioterrorism

Mark P. Wilhelm

in Mayo Clinic Infectious Diseases Board Review

Published on behalf of © Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199827626
Published online June 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199929641 | DOI:

Series: Mayo Clinic Scientific Press

Agents of Bioterrorism

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Biological agents suitable for use as bioweapons can in many cases be produced and developed in small facilities at relatively modest expense. The human devastation that could be caused by certain biologic agents can rival that of a nuclear device at a small fraction of the cost. Organisms and biotoxins are colorless, odorless, and invisible and have potential for dissemination over a large geographic area. Attacks are difficult to detect before presentation of initial clinical cases. They have the potential to cause high morbidity and mortality, incite panic (creating additional “psychological casualties”). Person-to-person transmission is possible and illness is often difficult to diagnose or treat. The incubation period usually allows escape of the perpetrator. Morbidity and mortality are unpredictable because they vary with agent delivery, environmental conditions, and the public health response. Specific bioterrorism agents and their effects are reviewed.

Chapter.  4961 words. 

Subjects: Infectious Diseases

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