Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
Bioterrorism and biowarfare today: A number of countries have continued offensive biological weapons research and use. Additionally, since the 1980s, terrorist organizations have become users of biological agents. Usually, these cases amount only to hoaxes. However, the following exceptions have been noted:
In 1985, Iraq began an offensive biological weapons program producing anthrax, botulinum toxin, and aflatoxin. During
Operation Desert Storm, the coalition of allied forces faced the threat of chemical and biological agents. Following the Persian Gulf War, Iraq disclosed that it had bombs, Scud missiles, 122-mm rockets, and artillery shells armed with botulinum toxin, anthrax, and aflatoxin. They also had spray tanks fitted to aircraft that could distribute agents over a specific target.
In September and October of 1984, 751 people were intentionally infected with
Salmonella, an agent that causes food poisoning, when followers of the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh contaminated restaurant salad bars in Oregon.
In 1994, a Japanese sect of the Aum Shinrikyo cult attempted an aerosolized (sprayed into the air) release of anthrax from the tops of buildings in Tokyo.
In 1995, two members of a Minnesota militia group were convicted of possession of ricin, which they had produced themselves for use in retaliation against local government officials.
In 1996, an Ohio man attempted to obtain bubonic plague cultures through the mail.
In 2001, anthrax was delivered by mail to U.S. media and government offices. There were
In December 2002, six terrorist suspects were
arrested in Manchester, England; their apartment was serving as a "ricin
laboratory." Among them was a 27-year-old chemist who was producing the toxin. Later, on Jan. 5, 2003, British police raided
two residences around London and found traces of ricin, which led to an investigation of a possible Chechen separatist plan to attack the Russian embassy with the toxin; several arrests were made.
On Feb. 3, 2004, three U.S. Senate office buildings were closed after the toxin ricin was found in
a mailroom that serves Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's office.
The threat that biological agents will be used on both military forces and civilian populations is now more likely than it was at any other point in history.