Dr. Ernie Charlesworth was our speaker and his topic was Bioterrorism.  Biological warfare is the intentional use of microorganisms or their toxins to cause sickness, disease or death. 
In regards to the history of biological warfare smallpox was used as a biologic weapon during the French – Indian war.  The British contaminated blankets with smallpox and gave them to the Indians along with contaminated trinkets. 
 
Here are some facts regarding biological weapons and bioterrorism:
  • During WWI, Glanders (a viral organism that infects lymph nodes) was used to infect soldiers horses.
 
  • In 1942 Japan had a program of biologic warfare against the Chinese.They were using Anthrax.
 
  • U.S. had an offensive program from 1943 to 1969 , which Nixon cancelled in 1969, that was based out of Ft. Detrick, MD in which they grew anthrax in a huge vat which was placed on missiles.
 
  • 1953 the U.S. developed a biologic defensive program that still goes on to this day.
 
  • 1975 there was “yellow rain” that was used by the Soviets in Southeast Asia.“Yellow Rain” was micro toxin.
 
  • Ricin has been used in castor beans .
 
  • There was an outbreak of Anthrax in the Soviet Union in 1979 due to worker error.
 
  • Iraq had biologic weapons that were used on the Kurds.
 
  • 100 kilograms of anthrax spores can cause 130,000 – 500,000 deaths.Depending on the wind conditions that number can go up to 1,000,000 deaths.
 
Why focus resources on biologic weapons?  You get “more bang for your buck”.  For every dollar one would invest in biologic weapons, you would have to spend $600 developing a chemical weapon, $800 to develop nuclear weapons, and $2,000 to develop a conventional weapon.  Biologic weapons are cheap, low technology, and lower economic countries can utilize it. 
 
Countries that are thought to have biological weapons:  Russia, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, and China. 
 
U.S. policy on biologic weapons is simple:  no use under any circumstances.  U.S. research is only defensive research, focusing on vaccination and neutralization.  All biologic weapons the U.S. possessed have been destroyed. 
 
Thank you, Ernie, for being our speaker this morning!
 
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