According to recorded history and available sources the use of pathogenic and lethal organisms and their derivatives goes back to the BC’s we can mention Hannibals ‘snake on the ship‘ scenario,the use of dead animals to contaminate wells,the dipping of arrows in decomposing bodies.
In the 14th century AD the Black death due to Yersinia pestis which swept through europe, the near east and north africa can be pointed out as the greatest public health disaster in recorded history according to Gabriele de Mussi’s memoir which was published in latin but translated into english he stated that the epidemic which caused europe to lose more than its quarter population was caused by the Mongol armies hurdling of plague-infected cadavers into the besieged crimean city of Caffa.In 1343 the mongols under Janibeg beseiged Caffa and the Italian onclave in Tana following a conflict between Italians and muslim Tana.
This seige lasted till february 1344 the seige was lifted by Italian relief forces by neutralizing 15,000 mongol soldiers but Janibeg renewed the seige in 1345 which was again lifted after one year. The Italians blocked mongel ports,forcing Janibeg to negotiate and in 1347 the Italians were allowed to restablish their colony at Tana.
The fact that biological weapons are disasterously effective is because of their subtility in the use of bioterrorism and biowarfare the list of pathogens include Yersinia pestis,Vibrio cholera, Yellow fever virus,Brucella species,ricin,mycotoxins Bacillus anthracis,ebola, Francisella tularensis,Coxiella burnetii,variola, monkey pox virus,Staphylococcal enterotoxin B,and botulinum toxin are among the few.
These natural evolved or artifically synthesised pathogens can be delivered through air as aerosols loaded on misiles,inserted into food and water supplies and detecting them is extremely challenging until they start causing devastations.The hall mark of bioterrorism is mass casualities because that’s their intended purpose therefore, a health worker on the scene of mass epidemic must suspect an outbreak or a foul play.
As human ingeniuosity progresses the types of pathogens deployed by mad nations also is getting sophisticated not to mention what evolution adds on top of that when man’s raging pugnacity is aided with modern technology the effects are catastrophic.During the first world war the Nazis developed anthrax,glanders,cholera, and plant pathogens to use them against the USSR in which they caused glanders.
Eventhough, the Geneva protocol was signed in 1925 by 108 countries prohibiting chemical and biological agents during world war II the Japanese operated a secret facility called Unit 731 in Manchuria which sadistically experimented on prisoners they exposed 3000 people to pathogenic and lethal agents.
The United states,Britian,USSR,Iraq also had their own research programs.The biological and toxin weapons convention was signed by the USSR,US,UK and others banning development,production and stock pilling of microbes and their poisonous products in 1972 which had more ‘teeth’ than the 1925 protocol which in 1996 137 nations signed the treaty.
But surprisingly the Soviet union continued its research and production of offensive biological weapons program called Biopreparat in 1971 an accident occured while on going test on the Isand of Vozrozhdeniye causing an epidemic of small pox.
According to the US congress office of technology assesement 8 countries were reported to have undeclared offensive biological warfare programs in 1995 China,Iran,Iraq,Isreal,Libya,North korea,Syria and Taiwan.
It is possible to write an entire book on bioterrorism and biological warfare how they are manufactured,delivered and how to protect ourselves from these silent killers this article is just an epitome of this very voluminous subject of microbiology which i collected from various sources.