Botulism Toxin

Botulism Toxin // Botulism Test // Botulism Detection Device // Bioterrorism // Biological Weapons

How is botulism used as a weapon?

Botulinum toxin poses a major bioweapon threat because of its extreme potency and lethality, ease of production, ease of transport and the need for prolonged intensive care among effected persons. When used for biological weapons, it can be released as an aerosol or distributed in water and food sources.

Botulinum toxin is absorbed through the respiratory or gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms of exposure can include:

  • Double and blurred vision
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Slurred speech
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Dry mouth
  • Muscle weakness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Botulinum toxin is the most poisonous substance known. A single gram of crystalline toxin, evenly dispersed and inhaled, would kill more than 1 million people, although technical factors would make such dissemination difficult. Attempts at biological warfare in the form of botulism toxin date back to World War II. Terrorist such as the Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo have attempted the use of botulinum in at least 3 separate occasions. The japanese BW group, Unit 731, admitted to feeding Botulinum toxin to Chinese prisoners in the 30's and Iraq admitted to the UN that it produced over 19,000 liters of concentrated botulinum toxin of which 10,000 liters were loaded into military weapons.

Botulism detection devices or botulism tests are a critical component to a team's response capabilities. Advnt's Botulinum tests can detect both Botulinum A and B down to 33ng/ml for A and 500ng/ml for B.