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Biological Warfare (cont.)


Glanders is a disease mainly in horses and is caused by the bacterium Burkholderia mallei. It can be transmitted to humans and other domestic animals. However, it is only rarely seen in humans. It has been intermittently used by governments in World War I and II and by Russia in the 1980s. In humans, it causes a flu-like illness. In 2000, there was a case in a U.S. military microbiologist who recovered completely with treatment.


Typhus is an acute febrile illness caused by Rickettsia typhi and Rickettsia prowazkeii. This should not be confused with typhoid fever, which is a gastrointestinal illness caused by Salmonella typhi bacteria. There are endemic and epidemic forms of the disease. The epidemic form is caused by Rickettsia prowazkeii. This is typically transmitted via lice. Rats, mice, and flying squirrels, which are asymptomatic carriers, carry the disease. The disease is spread to the human population through ticks, chiggers, fleas, and lice. There have been natural outbreaks throughout history that were usually associated with wars and famine. Poor living conditions and squalor allow spread of the disease. The typhus spread by ticks causes Rocky Mountain spotted fever. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has categorized typhus as a category B biological weapons agent. While Rickettsia prowazekii is highly infectious, it cannot be passed from person to person. A number of governments have experimented with weaponizing typhus, but typhus does not appear to have ever been successfully used in a military setting.

Anti-Crop Biological Agents

There have been a number of agents developed during the last century to cause destruction of crops. These include wheat stem rust, rye stem rust, rice blast, cereal rust, wheat smut, and potato blight. A number of governments have experimented with using these agents, but there does not appear to have ever been a use of these agents in a military setting.

Medically reviewed by Robert Cox, MD; American Board of Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Infectious Disease


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Earls, J.P., D. Cerva, E. Berman, et al. "Inhalational Anthrax after Bioterrorism Exposure: Spectrum of Imaging Findings in Two Surviving Patients." Radiology 222 (2002): 305-312. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2222011830.

Fowler, R.A., and S. Shafazand. (2011) Anthrax Bioterrorism: Prevention, Diagnosis and Management Strategies. J Bioterr Biodef 2:107. doi:10.4172/2157- 2526.1000107.

Inglesby, T.V., D.T. Dennis, D.A. Henderson, et al. (2000). Plague as a Biological Weapon: Medical and Public Health Management. JAMA. 283(17): 2281-2290.

Jon-Erik, C., M.D. Holty, Dena M. Bravata, et al. (2006). "Systematic review: a century of inhalational anthrax cases from 1900 to 2005". Ann Intern Med 144 (4): 270-80.

Moayeri, Mahtab, et al. "Anthrax Pathogenesis." Annual Review of Microbiology 69 Oct. 2015: 185-208.

Nelson, E.J., D.S. Nelson, M.A. Salem, and D.A. Sack. (2011). Antibiotics for Both Moderate and Severe Cholera. NEJM. 364:5-7.

Switzerland. World Health Organization. "Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak." <>.

Team, W.E.R. "West African Ebola epidemic after one year -- slowing but not yet under control." N Engl J Med 372 (2015): 584-587.

Team, W.E.R. "Ebola virus disease among male and female persons in West Africa." N Engl J Med 374 (2016): 96-98.

United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Bioterrorism." <>.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/30/2016

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