The Long Lasting Legacy of Biowarfare -Tuesday, May 25, 2010
What was once known as ‘Germ Warfare’ for decades is now being termed ‘Biowarfare or Bioterrorism in keeping with the current state of affairs. Unfortunately biowarfare is not a new tactic in warfare, in fact biowarefare’s roots go way back to the ancient history of dirty warfare tactics. One example of ancient biowarfare assults can be found in the fourteenth century when Asian armies catapulted the bodies of plague victims over city walls to infect the entrapped population of a fortified city. Later, during the French and Indian Wars in the United States, a British Military officer is reported to have given unsuspecting Indians blankets infected with small pox resulting in several fatalities. The US militia are said to have continued this same tactic on the American Indians as the US expanded further into the western territories.
In Modern times, in Sverdlovsk Russia, anthrax spores were released from a military facility some 1450 km east of Moscow resulted in 100 deaths in 1979. That same year, Ricin another biological warfare toxin is said to be a preferred poison with the KGB, was used to coat the assassin’s bullet that killed Bulgarian dissident writer Georgi Markov on September 7, 1978. The use of anthrax spores as a weapon was implemented in WW II when both Japan and Great Britain tested weapons carrying anthrax spores.
The development in recent times of genetic engineering holds the grim and disturbing promise of manufactured toxins never before experienced on this planet. Genetically altering already harmful microorganisms into super harmful mutations is no longer the stuff of science fiction and comic book villains. Biological Warfare and all its’ ramifications as been with us throughout our history and promises to become more formidable as we move forward into the future.
In 2003 AdVnt biotechnologies sought to pave the way in responding to the growing threat of biowarfare by creating a rapid hand held assay that would give hazmat, and emergency first responder teams a way to identify a biowarfare agent in less then 15 minutes, giving these teams plenty of time to make important containment decisions and save the lives of millions. Thanks to this pioneering technology, a rapid, low-cost solution to biowarfare threats has been greatly diminished.
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