MASS CASUALTIES & BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS

Biological weapons based on known killers such as botulism (toxin), Ebola &
Marburg viruses, anthrax,  Q fever, epidemic typhus, & tularemia, are
emerging as humanitarian threats to large civilian populations.  In recent
history, Japanese bioweapons killed 3,000 Chinese WWII, & Russians used
bioweapons on Afghanistan in the 1980s.  The primary mass casualty threat
of bioweapons is from aersolized distribution, with human entry being
respiratory (breathing).  Bioweapons are lighter, have more extensive
killing range, persist longer, & are harder to detect, than chemical
weapons, & effect far less non-human damage (i.e. to infrastructure)
than nuclear weapons.  The Biological Weapons Convention (signed in 1972
& entered into force in 1975) defined no enforcement measures; Russia &
Iraq, among others, have violated it.  Today bioweapons are possessed by
Libya, North Korea, south Korea, Iraq, Taiwan, Syria, Israel, Iran, China,
Egypt, Vietnam, Laos, Cuba, Bulgaria, India, South Africa, & Russia.
Although Russia apparently dismantled its bioweapons industry, no one today
knows where the thousands of Soviet scientists have gone to, to ply their
expertise.

Humanitarian aid organizations, non-profits in particular, have little or no
current capacity (training or preparedness) to deal with bioweapon incidents
in large populations.  Several recent publications, reviewed below, have a
high degree of content overlap, most listing the same 25 biohazards, their
means of infectivity, lethality, & medical treatment measures.  Each
acknowledges that policy analysts are increasing fearful of the potential
for bio-terrorist incidents with large casualty levels.  Yet each is weak
on suggesting programs or strategies for prevention, monitoring, training
for bioweapon incidents in different countries, including developing
countries in conflict; each is focused almost exclusively on clinical
aspects of an urban attack in the US.

- "BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS, LIMITING THE THREAT", J LEDERBERG
editor (1999, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press) includes current analyses of over
50 specialists in bioweapons, including basic textbook review of diseases,
case-identification methods, scenarios,& comparison of probable threats
to modern cities.   Karl Lowe argues for civilians use of the simple
biological warfare masks ($4 apiece).  Caruth argues that past history
gives little "insight into the potential consequences" of merging
bioweapons with sophisticated military delivery systems.

- AUGUST '99 ISSUE OF "EMERGING INFECTIOUS DISEASES" JOURNAL
on "Medical and Public Health Response to Bioterrorism" (Atlanta: CDC)
gives an even more up to date review by 50+ authors (many, the same).
Hopkins' Russell finds that "Despite the protective efficacy of vaccines
against individual organisms, the very high costs & great difficulties
involved in vaccinating large populations, along with the broad spectrum
of potential agents, make it impossible to use vaccines to protect the
general population against bioterrorism. However, if suitable vaccines
can be made available, they have several potential uses: control of a
smallpox epidemic & prevention of a global pandemic, post-exposure
prophylaxis against anthrax (with antibiotics), & pre-exposure prophylaxis
in first-responders at high risk, laboratory workers, & health-care
providers. The journal is available in its entirety on the web:
/www.cdc.gov/ncidod/EID/index.htm

- INSIDER RECOUNTS $1BILLION/ANNUM SOVIET BIOWEAPONS ARMAMENTATION:
Ken Alibek in his 1999 "BioHazard - the True Story of the Largest Covert
Biological Weapons Program in the World" (NY: Random House) relates his
personal experience managing extensive bioweapons research & devel. in
the USSR where under Breshznev dozens of biological warfare installations
were established & disguised as legitimate medical groups.  As recently as
1990 total Soviet bioweapons spending was roughly $1 billion.  "By the
1970s we had managed to harness single-warhead intercontinental ballistic
missiles for use in the delivery of biological agents.  The plague weapon
we had created in our laboratories was more virulent than the bubonic
plague.  Smallpox was stockpiled in underground bunkers at our military
plants and we were developing a weapon prototype based on a rare filovirus
called Marburg, a cousin of Ebola."  Alibek does not believe Russia has
fully disarmed.

- "JANE'S CHEM-BIO HANDBOOK" EXPLAINS SYMPTOMS, TREATMENT
(1998, Alexandria VA:  Janes Information Group) & USAMRIID's "Medical
Management of Biological Casualties" (1998 ,  MD: Fort Detrick, & online
at www.usamriid.army.mil/content/FMs/medman/) & are handy pocket-sized
references, also including microgram dosage for lethal dose (LD-50),
incubation periods, & vaccines for the 25 main biohazards.  On anthrax, for
example: the recommended use of vaccine (6 dose) if pre-exposure, otherwise
individuals should receive ciprofloxacin, 500 mg bid; for 4 weeks.  In
developed countries, it is difficult to cause high levels of casualties
with BW agents via municipal water supplies.  If an aerosol attack does
occur:  "It is thought that most open air BW attacks will occur shortly
before daybreak, a sunset or during the night."

- IRAQ, POISONOUS WEAPONS & DETERRENCE
is the subtitle & subject of Avigdor Haselkorn's 1999 "The Continuing
Storm" which scours the evidence about Iraq's development & sequestration
of weaponized biological & chemical agents.  Haselkorn concludes that S.
Hussein used the threat of bioweapon release as his trump card in 1991, &
does so today as well.  A single warhead dispersion of sarin nerve agent,
or of dried anthrax spores over Tel Aviv would have led to many thousands
of deaths.  "Even if Saddam's mass destruction capability had been eroded
by the US bombing, Washington had to assume that a surviving chem/bio
warhead could hit Israel & cause a dramatic escalation... the US estimated
it had little chance of stopping Israel (from nuclear retaliation) in such
a case." The author also finds that Husein has successful concealed its
current bioweapon capacity, which is greater today than it was even before
the Gulf War.

- see also:  Brad Roberts 1997  "Terrorism With Chemical & Biological
Weapons" (Alexandria, VA: Chemical & Biological Weapons Control Institute";
& R Preston's 1998 "The Cobra Event" (reviewed Dec. 98 Humanitarian Times);
& see the nuclear/biological/chemical military preparedness
website: http://www.nbc-med.org/others/


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