10 Bioterrorism and Advanced Sensors [Sincavage & Carter]

History has shown us repeatedly, in terms of both human suffering and economic loss, that the costs of preparedness through vigilance are far lower than those needed to respond to unanticipated public health crises.” ~ RL Berkelman, RT Bryan, MT Osterholm, JW LeDuc, JM Hughes


Student Learning Objectives – What Questions Will Be Answered

1) How have pathogens shaped our history and will determine our future?

2) What / why are biological weapons (BW) used by terrorists?

3) What general taxonomy of BW is used by LEO / DHS in the field?

4) What is the current bioterrorism defense for the U.S. homeland?

5) What could be the long-term implications of compromised DNA data?

6) How can nanotechnology impact the global BW threat landscape?



Biological terrorist agents (BTA) which are prima facia for development of biological weapons (BW) include any microorganism or toxin found in nature or derived from living organisms to produce death or disease in humans, animals, or plants. (Burke, 2017) (DrPH & Shiel, 2020). They are odorless, tasteless, and colorless if released in a biological cloud by terrorists. All biological agents ( BA) have an incubation period, which will allow the terrorist time to escape before onset of symptoms. Anthrax, plague, and other BA are readily available in biological supply houses around the world outside the US. (Burke, 2017) There are good and bad bacteria naturally present in the environment and living organisms. The bad bacteria are referred to as pathogens because they cause death to a living organism. Disease-causing microorganisms (pathogens) are classified as 6.2 infectious substances under the U.N,. / DOT hazard class system.[1]  Toxins that are chemical poisons produced by microorganisms or plants are classified under the U.N. /DOT hazard class system 6.1 poisons. [See end note & reference (Evers & T.J. Glover, 2010)] There are other systems of classifications for specific audiences, ex LEO. [2]


The biological threat agent can be introduced in the environment via asymmetric war or terrorist attacks. The threat of advanced biological warfare agents will continue to present challenges to developing effective strategies for defense and  countermeasures (vaccines, medicine, etc.) to combat the next level in 21st-century warfare. For those in the business of BW defense a solid reference for counterterrorism is by Burke. (Burke, 2017)


Biological Weapons – A Historical Primer

During medieval times, bodies diseased with plague were catapulted over walls protecting enemy forts and castles. Once inside, the disease would spread throughout the enclosed walls. Diseased bodies were also placed upstream from compounds, and the residents would drink the water full of deadly microorganisms. In the American Civil War confederate troops placed corpses of livestock into ponds and lakes, contaminating the water supply, which delayed the advance of Union troops. (Burke, 2017)


During World War I, Germany used biological weapons on animals to impact Romania, Spain, Norway, the United States, and Argentina (Wheelis, 1998). The German biological weapons  program produced bacterial and pathogen bioweapons of Anthrax, glanders, and cholera.

France followed Germany with the development of its own bioweapons program in 1921, weaponizing the potato beetle.


In 1928, The Soviet Union had one of the most powerful bioweapons programs during the cold war. They created the next level of weapon using genetically modified agents (Tucker, 1998). The U.S.S.R. created antibiotic-resistant strains for gland, anthrax, plague, and tularemia. There are three categories of Soviet bioweapons strategic, operational, strategic-operational.  The Soviets decided to develop biological weapons because their research showed them to be more efficient than toxic weapons. Biological weapons in massive amounts can create very high concentrations over a vast area. It is believed between 1988 and 1989; all Soviet bioweapons were destroyed on Vozrozhdeniye Island by Colonel Shcherbakov (Tucker, 1998).


Japan was the only country to use biological weapons during World War II. The Japanese program began in 1933, testing biological warfare out on women (pregnant or not) and men, ranging from any age, from their population of prisoners, handicapped, and homeless. The Japanese lab, Manchuria Detachment “Unit 731”, tested many agents (ex: plague, anthrax, gonorrhea, syphilis) on prisoners of war. Prisoners were exposed aerosolized anthrax and died. Their bodies were dissected to determine the effects of anthrax.  Reports indicate that as many as 3,000 prisoners might have died in BW research. It is also believed that the Japanese used BTA on Chinese soldiers and civilians in WWII. Bubonic plague, cholera, anthrax, and other diseases were released, killing tens of thousands of Chinese. (Burke, 2017) By the end of WWI, the Japanese had stockpiled 400 kilograms of anthrax to be used in specifically designed fragmentation bombs. (Burke, 2017)


From World War I, the United States began research and development of biological weapons. The official start of the U.S. biological weapons program was authorized in 1943 by President Roosevelt. During World War II, the United States had an advanced bioweapons program that included both offensive and defensive components. During that time, The United States could mass-produce pathogens such as anthrax and test spreading the bacteria in the form of a cluster bomb or anti-crop agent. Pathogens were weaponized at Fort Detrick in Maryland, then transported to the dugway proving grounds in Utah we’re open-air testing of the biological weapons took place (Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), 2015). After World War II, the United States expanded its biological warfare research based on information learned from Japan’s units 731 (Imperial Japanese Army’s covert biological and chemical warfare research and development unit). However, the early U.S. BW program was created because of the anticipated German biological warfare threat rather than the Japanese. (Burke, 2017) The medical defensive BTA program in the U.S. continues today as the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID). (Burke, 2017)


During the Korean War, the United States was accused of using bioweapons, but it was proven to the World Peace Council; the allegations were Chinese government propaganda. Accusations followed in 1962 by the Cuban government. It was believed the United States used bioweapons against poultry and tobacco industries in Cuba. Cuba could not prove the allegations. In 1969 President Nixon abolished all U.S. offensive biological weapon capabilities but retained the BTA defensive program. (watchdog -USAMRIID)


After World War II, Disarmament Discussions began to be addressed in the United Nations. This included biological and chemical weapons. In 1968 the nuclear nonproliferation treaty was put into place. This Treaty’s focus was mainly on chemical weapons and did not address the core of the biological weapons race. After negotiations by the U.S. and USSR,  the biological weapons convention was written in 1971. It was formally signed in 1972. At the signing event, Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, David Ennals, stated, “The Biological Weapons Convention is significant as the first measure, reached since the Second World War, involving the destruction of existing weapons. Biological warfare was potentially the most frightening method of armed conflict. Today, over 40 states are parties to this Convention and have both renounced this entire class of weapons and undertaken to prevent their future development by appropriate national measures. All governments for whom this Treaty formally enters into force today should gain satisfaction from having taken a step which will reduce the possibility of biological weapons being used in some future conflict.” (United Nations, 2021).


During the mid-1990’s, the Aum Shinri Kyo Cult terrorist organization in Japan dispersed aerosols of anthrax and botulism throughout Tokyo on at least eight occasions. The attacks failed. John Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense studies found that given the right weather and wind conditions, about 110 pounds of anthrax released from an aircraft could spread nearly 12 miles downwind. The cloud would be colorless, odorless, and invisible. No warning systems would be activated until patients showed up in hospitals. (Burke, 2017) [3] During the fall of 2001, Biological terrorism struck U.S. letters postmarked Trenton, NJ, to various news organizations and political figures. The most potent of the letters went to the Senate with a highly refined dry powder consisting of 1 gram of nearly pure anthrax spores. Twenty-two people developed anthrax infections. Five Died. [4] (Burke, 2017)


First Bioterrorism Attack in the United States


The 1984, the Rajneeshee bioterror attack that impacted the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. The Rajneesh cult (Osho followers) conducted the first documented bioterror incident in the U.S. (CDC Emerging Infectious Diseases, 2003). The cult had been planned to influence the county election results by infecting residents with salmonella on election day. They first started to test their attack by contaminating salad bars at ten restaurants with S. Typhimurium (typhoid fever) on different occasions before Election Day (CDC Emerging Infectious Diseases, 2003). It came to light the cult was to blame when Osho fled the commune and voiced his concern about the leader Anand Sheela’s fascist beliefs. The FBI found a bioterrorism lab containing salmonella cultures and documentation for manufacturing and using explosives and biowarfare.


Dark Winter


On June 22nd and 23rd, 2001, the Johns Hopkins Center for civil biodefense strategies collaborated with other institutional institutions in a bioterrorism exercise, Dark Winter. The event simulated pandemic smallpox, focusing on the challenge’s policymakers would face if confronted with a bioterrorist attack. Dark winter was intended to bring awareness to the threat posed by biological weapons among senior national security experts (Tara O’Toole, April 2002). Dark winner simulated attacks involving smallpox on shopping malls in three different states resulting in 3000 people becoming infected (Foley, 2017). The exercise resulted in:

  • 16,000 smallpox cases reported in 25 states
  • 1000 people had died
  • The health care system could not meet the patient load
  • Ten countries reported smallpox outbreaks, and Canada and Mexico had closed their borders (Foley, 2017).
  • The vaccine stockpiles for smallpox ran out with a month’s wait to replenish.
  • Food supplies we’re running low
  • Countries put travel restrictions in place the economy was weak.

What were the lessons learned from Dark Winter? Why was a similar simulation running again in the U.S.? Remember after September 11, 2001, eyes turned to the United States and the use of biodefense. Shortly after 9/11, the United States encountered an anthrax attack against government officials  (described supra). Since the tragic historical event, the FBI create a specialized branch to focus on chemical, biological radiological, nuclear, and explosives. (Figure 10.1) Later in 2006, it became the Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate (WMDD). The branch links intelligence scientific and operational components to detect and disrupt the acquisition of WMDD against America.


Between 2014 in 2016, the lessons of dark winter were not applied, and the nation faced the Ebola crisis.  When the outbreak began in West Africa, the world watched as it spread quickly through West African countries. 10,000 people were  infected with the Ebola virus, and more than half of that number died. It became a United States national security top priority, sending troops to assist with the $400 million humanitarian effort. When the virus reached The U.S. borders, it was not met with any sort of barrier requirements. The personal protective equipment could not protect against the pathogen, causing patients to be isolated. Quick reaction by the government and the medical community The United States suffered only 11 cases, which resulted in two deaths and nine survivors. Following the Ebola crisis, the House of Representative’s subcommittees examined pandemic /biological terrorist attack preparedness. U.S. presidential Directive (PPD)-39 outlined the responsibilities of five federal agencies regarding WMD exercises (Foley, 2017). The directive had assigned specific tasks to each of the five agencies. It did not provide a plan for a coordinated response to a biological attack

Also, PDD-39 was at the federal funding level and did not account for the states (Foley, 2017). From 2004 leading up to the Ebola crisis, the U.S. government spent over $78.8 billion in biodefense.  When examining the expenditures further, the majority was spent on multi-hazard programs, and only 17% went towards true biodefense (Foley, 2017). Biodefense continues to struggle through the budget from year to year. For example, the 2014 budget was $47.7 million less than the 2013 budget (Foley, 2017). Since 2017 several of the programs under the Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate (WMDD) were eliminated or reassigned to another division. The red team who conducted drills and assessments to help federal and local officials detect threats were eliminated. A part of the homeland unit that performs its exercises related to Weapons of Mass Destruction at all levels was reduced. And international cooperation division that worked with foreign counterparts and the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency was disbanded. The goal of this partnership was to stop and track the smuggling of nuclear materials. There was a cut in funding to mobile units that protected large public events by detecting biological threats.


Figure 10.1 FBI WMD Investigation (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2021)


The U.S. is one of the largest contributors to the G8 global partnership against the spread of weapons and materials and mass destruction. This partnership with 29 other countries is critical in preventing the illegal trafficking of weapons mass destruction materials, dismantle and decommission nuclear submarines, and improve biosecurity. In 2004, the U.S. was a cosponsor for the United Nations Security Council resolution 1540. The resolution, “to prevent states from supporting non-state actors and development of weapons of mass destruction including biological weapons” (Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), 2015). In the United States, biological weapons programs are created, restructured, expand, and disbanded at the hands of different government administrations. In October 2019, a House Homeland Security Committee subcommittee held a hearing entitled “Defending the Homeland from Bioterrorism: Are We Prepared?” The answer was a resounding no (Rutschman, 2019).



There are several types of BTA (pathogens) used for biological weapons. Biological agents can be divided into several related groups (See Table 10.1). These include bacteria and rickettsia, viruses, and toxins.  Bacterial and viral agents cause disease and can multiply and spread beyond the initial attack.[5] Toxins are poisonous substances produced by living things, some of which are extremely lethal. Toxins are not contagious. Some of the bacteria that cause disease include anthrax, plague, cholera, diphtheria, tuberculosis, typhoid fever, typhus, Legionnaire’s disease, Lyme disease, and strep infections. Other bacteria produce toxins that are chemical poisons, such as botulinum. More bacteria exist in a handful of soils or in a person’s mouth than all the people who have ever lived on earth. When someone sneezes, over a million bacteria can be disseminated. Over 90% of all feces is made up of bacteria. More bacterial cells than human cells exist in your body. From 300,000 to 1,000,000 different types of bacteria exist on Earth. The majority of common bacteria is not pathogenic nor parasitic. Some have mutated and learned to invade other cells and cause disease. Bacterial organisms have a nucleus, intracellular nonmembrane bound organelles ( a specialized cellular part that resembles an organ) , and a cell wall. (Burke, 2017)


Table 10.1 Comparison of Biological Agent Characteristics (Burke, 2017)

Disease Likely Method of Dissemination Infectious person to person Infectious dose Incubation Period Duration of illness Lethality Persistence
Anthrax Spores in aerosol No except cutaneous 8 to 10,000 spores 1 to 5 days 3-5 days usually fatal High Very stable for years
Cholera Sabotage (food & water) Rare >106 organisms 12 hours to 6 days >1 week Low when treated, high without Unstable
Plague Aerosol High <100


1 to 3 days` 1 to 6 days, usually fatal High if not treated w/i 12 – 24 hours Up to 1 year
Tularemia Aerosol No 1 to 50 organisms 1 to 10 days >2 weeks Moderate For months
Q Fever Aerosol, sabotage ( food supply) Rare 10 organisms 14 to 26 days Weeks Very low For months
Ebola Direct contact, aerosol Moderate 1 to 10 plague units 4 to 16 days Death between 7-16 days High Zaire strain; moderate Sudan Unstable
Smallpox Aerosol High Assumed low 10-12 days 4 weeks High to moderate Very stable
VEE Aerosol Low Assumed low 1 to 6 days Days to weeks Low unstable
Botulinum toxin Aerosol No 0.001 g/kg is LD50  [6] Variable (hours to 24 to days) Death in 72 hours; lasts months if not fatal High without respiratory support For weeks



Bacteria and rickettsia are single-celled microscopic organisms that can cause disease in plants, animals, and humans.

Rickettsia are pleomorphic (varying sizes) parasitic microorganisms that live in the cells of the intestines of arthropods (invertebrates and man,  such as insects, spiders, and crabs, which have segmented bodies and jointed limbs. Some are pathogenic to man, where they are known to cause  the typhus group of fevers. Rickettsia are smaller than bacteria but larger than viruses. Like viruses, rickettsia are obligate ( they cannot exist on their own or in any other form); they are considered intra-cellular parasites. (Burke, 2017)

Viruses are very small submicroscopic organisms, smaller than bacteria and unable to live on their own. They must invade the host cell and make use of its reproductive mechanism to multiply. Many of the biological toxins are much more toxic than any of the chemical agents classified as chemical weapons (CW). See Table 10.2 Lethality of Selected Toxins and Chemical Agents in Laboratory Mice (Burke, 2017)


Table 10.2 Lethality of Selected Toxins and Chemical Agents in Laboratory Mice (Burke, 2017)


Agent LD50 (g/kg) Source
Botulinum toxin 0.001 Bacterium
Shiga toxin 0.002 Bacterium
Tetanus toxin 0.002 Bacterium
Abrin 0.04 Plant (Rosa Pea)
Diphtheria toxin 0.10 Bacterium
Maitotoxin 0.10 Marine Dinoflagellate
Palytoxin 0.15 Marine soft coral
Ciguatoxin 0.40 Marine Dinoflagellate
Texilotoxin 0.60 Elapid snake
C.perfringes toxins 0.1 to 5.0 Bacterium
Batrachotoxin 2.0 Arrow-Poison frog
Ricin 3.0 Plant (Castor beans)
Alpha-Conotoxin 5.0 Cone snake
Tiapoxin 5.0 Elapid snake
Tetrodotoxin 8.0 Puffer fish
Alpha-Tityustoxin 9.0 Scorpion
Saxitoxin 10.0 Marine Dinoflagellate
Inhalation 2.0
VX 15.0 Chemical agent
SEB 27.0 Bacterium
Anatoxin-A 50 Blue-green algae
Microcystin 50 Blue-green Algae
Soman (SD) 64 Chemical agent
Sarin 100 Chemical agent
Aconitine 100 Plant (Monkshood)
T-2 Toxin 1200 Fungal Mycotoxin



Bacterial Agents

Bacteria are single-celled organisms that range in size and shape from cocci (spherical cells)  with a diameter of 0.5-1.0 m (micrometer) to long rod-shaped organisms – bacilli – which can be from 1.5 m in size. Chains of bacilli have been known to exceed 60 m in size. Some bacteria have the ability to change into spores. In this form, the bacteria are more resistant to cold, heat, drying, chemicals, and radiation than the bacterial form. When in spore form, the bacteria are inactive, or dormant, much like seeds of a plant. When conditions are favorable, the spores germinate just like seeds. (Burke, 2017)

Bacteria has two methods by which it can cause disease in humans and animals. The first is by attacking the tissues of the host living thing. Secondly, all living organisms produce waste. Bacteria may produce a toxic or poisonous waste material that causes disease in the host. Some bacteria attack by both methods. When a terrorist selects a BTA, he wants the organism to survive under varied conditions and produce certain desired results from dissemination into the population. Genetic engineering may be used to create BTA from otherwise harmless bacteria.

Bacteria can be created to be resistant to known antibiotics, extreme weather conditions, or aerosol dissemination losses.


For a BTA to be effective, it must produce a specific effect: illness, disability, death, or damage to food chains. It must be produced in large amounts, and remain stable while manufactured, during storage, when weaponized, and during transportation. It must be easy to easy and effective to disperse and remain stable once disseminated.  It should have a short reliable gestation period and should be persistent. (Burke, 2017)

Bacillus anthracis is the cause of anthrax, used by Robert Koch in 1877 to develop a theory of disease (Bruce Budowle, 2020).  DNA is used to study bacteria’s evolution, giving the scientist the ability to identify different strands of viruses. As of 2018, 412 strains of anthrax have been identified, allowing a scientist to understand the bacteria for cures or weaponization (Bruce Budowle, 2020). The increase in DNA study using whole-genome sequencing of data has provided great insight into pathogens such as the plague. In 2002 two tourists visiting New York became ill with the first case of bubonic plague. Scientists were able to determine within a day the couple had been, in fact, it by bites from fleas in their backyard in New Mexico. The use of DNA leading to the progression of genotyping and analysis of a bacterial pathogen increases the chances of determining bio crimes. As with the good, there is the bad the advances in DNA study also increase the potential of an effective bioweapon.


Anthrax is a good example of a  BTA. Its medical courses is instructive. There are three ways to die from anthrax. Most commonly the disease appears on the hands and forearms of people working with infected animals. Symptoms as a result of cutaneous exposure include:

  • Intense itching, followed by carbuncle formation
  • Formation of carbuncles (inflammation of hair follicles and surrounding tissue)
  • Swelling at the location of the infection
  • Scabs form over the lesions and turn black as coal[7]


The mortality rate for untreated cutaneous anthrax is 20%.

Inhalation exposure symptoms are flu-like:

  • Chills and mild fever
  • Malaise
  • Nausea and swelling of the lymph nodes
  • Fatigue
  • Myalgia (muscle pain)
  • Dry cough
  • Feeling of pressure in chest


Victims feel better ( known as anthrax eclipse) but in a few days the victim will get much worse with major pulmonary involvement.

Mortality rate is nearly 100%.

Anthrax can also be ingested. Symptoms resulting from ingestion exposure to anthrax include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Acute inflammation of the intestinal tract
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting of blood
  • Severe diarrhea


Approximately 25-60 % of those victims will die.

All the pathogens in Tables 10.1 & 10.2 are medically described in detail in (Burke, 2017). Further properties -especially for LEO-  are listed in (Evers & T.J. Glover, 2010).


Viruses / Viral Weapons

Viruses are the simplest type of microorganism and the smallest of living things. They are much smaller than bacteria and range in size from 0.02 – 1.0 m (1m = 1,000 mm). One drop of blood can contain over 6 billion viruses! [8]  Every living entity is composed of cells except for viruses. They are inert until they come into contact with a living host. The infection point created from a virus occurs at the cellular level. Once the virus invades the cell, it can kill it. Common examples of viral agents include measles, mumps, meningitis, influenza, HIV -AIDS, HBV, HBC, and the common cold. (Burke, 2017)


Most likely virus candidates for terrorist agents would include Venezuelan equine encephalitis (VEE), smallpox,  and the class called hemorrhagic fevers. The latter group includes Ebola, Marburg, arenaviridae, Lassa fever, Argentine and Bolivia, Congo-Crimean, Rift Valley, yellow fever, and dengue. (Burke, 2017)

Viruses are infectious agents that require a host for propagation, a trait that has caused them to excel at finding new hosts (Clare E. Rowland, 2016). Whereas many of the weaponized bacteria are not as effective in transmission from person to person, viruses are the pathogens that generate pandemics (Clare E. Rowland, 2016). The CDC has classified multiple viral agents as potential weapons of mass destruction or agents for biologic terrorism (Bronze, 2002). Viruses are significant; they are quickly produced and spread (i.e., Ebola, coronaviruses, smallpox). In 2009, the U.S. government launched USAID PREDICT to search for unknown viruses that can cross from animals to humans resulting in a pandemic.  The PREDICT program identified nearly 1,000 new viruses, including a new strain of Ebola; trained roughly 5,000 people worldwide to identify new diseases; worked with 31 countries, and improved or developed 60 research laboratories (Global Biodefense Staff, 2020).

In China, PREDICT detected a novel coronavirus clustering with the SARS-like coronaviruses in Rhinolophus bats from Guangdong. Further characterization of this Beta Coronavirus is underway, including sequencing of the spike protein, to determine if it has the potential to infect other hosts. USAID PREDICT in 2017 and 2018 reported on the cross-contamination of coronaviruses among bats, camels, and livestock. In 2019, USAID PREDICT had reached the end of its ten-year funding and was scheduled to be disbanded in March 2020.  On November 21, 2019, Senator Angus S. King wrote Mark green, the administrator for the United States Agency for International Development, questioning the closure of PREDICT, questioning if other agencies would inherit the project’s initiatives, and asked if Congress would be consulted before decisions were made regarding the reassignment of PREDICT Initiatives. On January 30, 2020, Senate representatives, including senator King wrote mark green again and wrote Homeland Security requesting updates on the coronavirus and USAID PREDICT response. April 1, 2020, the USAID PREDICT project was extended by six months. On May 7, 2020, the United States Agency for International Development announced USAID PREDICT project replacement, STOP Spillover. The $100 million replacement project was awarded to Tufts University to implement STOP Spillover with a consortium of universities worldwide. STOP Spillover is a critical next step in the evolution of USAID’s work to understand and address the risks posed by zoonotic diseases that can “spillover” – or be transmitted (USAID , 2020).  A member of the debunked USAID PREDICT, Kevin Olival is a disease ecologist at the EcoHealth Alliance, expressed, “…what is needed is detailed knowledge of local ecology, maps of species distributions, an understanding of people’s behavioral interactions with other species and an awareness of the cultural and economic drivers of the animal trade.”


Galveston National Laboratory

Galveston National Laboratory is one of the most extensive active biocontainment facilities on a U.S. academic campus. On March 23, 2013, GNL reported a vial of the GUANARITO virus missing from the secure research lab. Guanarito virus, a rat-borne pathogen that can infect humans, could potentially be weaponized as an aerosol spray causing hemorrhagic fever. Similar to Ebola, the virus causes bleeding under the skin, and internal organs were from body orifices like math eyes or ears, a 33% chance of death. The virus is typically contracted in South America, specifically Venezuela. GNL maintains there was no breach to the facilities and no indication that wrongdoing was involved. The lab believes the vial had been accidentally dropped on the floor then destroyed in the incinerator, but there is no record.


Biological Toxins / Toxic Weapons

Biological toxins are defined as any toxic substance occurring in nature produced by an animal, plants, or microbe (pathogenic bacteria) such as bacteria, fungi, flowering plants, insects, fish, reptiles, or mammals. They are classified as poisons under U.N./DOT 6.1. Unlike chemical agents such as sarin, cyanide, or mustard, toxins are not man-made. (Table 10.3)




Table 10.3 Comparison of Chemical Agents and Toxins (Burke, 2017)

Toxins Chemical Agents
Natural Origin Man-made
Difficult small-scale production Large scale industrial operations
None volatile Many volatile
Many are more toxic Less toxic than many toxins
Not dermally active * Dermally active
Legitimate medical use No use other than many toxins (except murder)
Odorless and tasteless Noticeable odor and taste
Diverse toxic effects Fewer types of effects
Many are effective immunogens ** Poor immunogens
Aerosol delivery Mist/droplet/aerosol delivery
*Exceptions are trichothecene mycotoxins, lyngbyatoxin, and some blue-green algae.  Cause dermal injury to swimmers. **The human body recognizes them as foreign material and makes protective antibodies against them


Toxins are unlike chemical agents in that they vary widely in their mechanism of action. ( Table 10.4) Length of time from exposure to onset of symptoms also varies significantly. In battlefield scenarios, preparations can be made for treatments and preventive measures. However, in a terrorist threat, preparation is not as easy, because it is unknown when or where the terrorist will strike, or which agent would be used. (Burke, 2017)


Table 10.4 Comparison of Chemical Nerve Agent, Botulinum Toxin, and Staphylococcal Enterotoxin B Intoxication following Inhalation Exposure  (Burke, 2017)


Chemical Nerve Agent Botulinum Toxin Staphylococcal Enterotoxin B
Time to symptoms Minutes Hours (12-48) Hours (1-6)
Nervous Convulsions, Muscle twitching Progressive paralysis Headache, muscle aches
Cardiovascular Slow heart rate Normal rate Normal or rapid rate
Respiratory Difficult breathing, airway constriction Normal then progressive paralysis Non-productive cough; severe cases: chest pain, difficult breathing
Gastrointestinal Increased motility, pain, diarrhea Decreased motility Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
Ocular Small pupils Droopy eyelids Red eyes, conjunctival injection
Salivary Profuse watering saliva Normal but difficult swallowing Slight increased quantities of saliva
Death Minutes 2-3 days unlikely
Response to Atropine / 2PAM-CL Yes No Atropine may reduce gastrointestinal symptoms



Toxins, produced by living organisms, are materials that can be connected to several types of industrial operations and bioterrorism.  Unlike the other bioweapons, toxic weapons are not contagious. The toxin ricin is a natural byproduct creating Castor oil from Castor beans. Castor beans are processed worldwide, resulting in millions of tons readily available. In 1978 during the Cold War, Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov was assassin by a poke of an Umbrella that contained tiny pellet ricin. It was reported during the Iran Iraqi war that ricin might have been used.  Ricin has also been detected in the mail received at the U.S. Senate office complex in 2004


In general, governments have found BTA unsatisfactory as battlefield weapons because they are difficult to deliver efficiently while protecting their own troops and because of treaties and conventions signed among participants.  However, they may be more attractive to terrorists because they have a potential to cause casualties, and to instill fear and panic in a general population. (Evers & T.J. Glover, 2010) BTA is definitely a global phenomenon. Table 10.5 Biological agents (BTA) as a function of global development / use. (Clare E. Rowland, 2016)


Table 10.5 Biological Threat Agents as a function of global development / use (Clare E. Rowland, October 2016)




Bacillus anthracis (anthrax) US, UK, Canada. USSR, Iraq,

Germany, Japan, Aum Shinrikyo

 Germany; Allies; WWI; (4)

USSR; Sverdlovsk; 1979, Aum Shinrikyo, Japan, 1993; Not Determined; US; 2001.


Inhalation, ingestion, cutaneous Aerosol Dispersion
Yersinia pestis (plague) US, USSR, Japan Japan; China; WWII. Inhalation, animal vectors High fatality rate, secondary transmission
Francisella tularensis (tularemia) US, USSR, Japan USSR; German troops; WWII (5) Ingestion, inhalation, contact, animal vectors Infectivity, difficult diagnosis, antibiotic resistance
Coxiella burnetti (Q fever) US, USSR USSR; German troops; WWII (5) Inhalation, animal vectors Infectivity, stability, secondary infection from animal vectors
Brucella species (brucellosis) US Germany; Allies; WWI; (4)


Inhalation, ingestion, contact Aerosol dispersion
Burkholderia mallei (glanders) Germany, Japan, US, USSR Japan; China and Manchuria; WWII; USSR; Afghanistan; 1982-4 (5) Inhalation, contact Infectivity, high morbidity
Salmonella typhimurium (salmonella) Japan Japan; China; WWII

Rajneeshee cult; Oregon; 1984

Ingestion Incapacitation
Variola major (smallpox) USSR, Japan USSR; Aralsk; 1971 Inhalation, contact Secondary transmission;
Viral hemorrhagic fevers (Ebola, Marburg, etc.) US, USSR, Japan Inhalation, contact high mortality

Secondary transmission;

Mycotoxins (including aflatoxin, T-2 toxins) USSR; Iraq USSR; Laos;


Contact, inhalation, ingestion Incapacitation
Clostridium botulinum toxin (botulism) USSR; Iraq, USSR, Germany, Japan,

Aum Shinrikyo

Aum Shinrikyo; 1990-95 inhalation, ingestion Extreme toxicity; aerosol dispersion
Ricin US, UK, USSR, Iraq, Al Qaeda Soviet assassin; Georgi Markov; 1978 inhalation, ingestion,


Widespread availability
Staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB) US inhalation, ingestion incapacitation
(1) Partial list of States or groups Involved in researching Or weaponizing the The agent
(2) Accidental releases Are in plain text. Attempted use shown In italics. Successful attacks in Bold
(3) Common natural Transmission mode Shown in italics & Red Transmission mode posing greatest Threat in bold
(4) Against livestock Rather than Human targets
(5) suspected use





Biological attacks using bacteria or viral agents are likely to escape detection for a time period corresponding to the incubation period for the disease they cause, anywhere from hours to weeks. Toxins typically act much faster. Doctors’ offices and emergency rooms are considered most likely to be the “first responders” in case of a bacterial or viral attack. (Evers & T.J. Glover, 2010)

Law enforcement officers (LEOs) are most likely to encounter attacks with toxins. They will be at more risk of exposure to bacterial or viral agents when investigating suspicious activities or where terrorists were observed or caught in the process of disseminating the agent. (Evers & T.J. Glover, 2010)



Existing U.S. Biodefense – BioWatch


Post 9/11, the United States created the BioWatch program. BioWatch is slow and cannot provide comprehensive attribution information, which leaves the U.S. population vulnerable to deadly biological agents and contributes to the nation’s overall biological unpreparedness and vulnerability (Mojidi, 2019). (See Figure 10.2) This surveillance system uses more than 600 sensors in over 30 major cities across the U.S., including throughout city transport systems (Mojidi, 2019). The samples are obtained by monitoring the air quality via a specialized filter (Mojidi, 2019). The filter is tested for pathogens using the Polymerase Chain Reaction, which directly identifies pathogenic genes from a list of predetermined highly infectious diseases (Mercer, 2016).


Figure 10.2 U.S. Biological Surveillance Process (Mojidi, 2019)


It can take from days to weeks before the U.S. government can coordinate an effective interagency response to bioterror events through the unsecured BioWatch portal. BioWatch program reported between 2003 to 2011 having 56 false alarms. Thus, putting the credibility of the BioWatch program in question. The U.S. started development on a Generation-3 system


Figure 10.3 BioWatch Gen 2 Aerosol Collector (Mercer, 2016)



Figure 10.4 BioWatch Gen 2 Aerosol Collector (Mercer, 2016)


Biowatch Gen 2 detection capabilities consist of outdoor aerosol collectors whose filters are manually retrieved for subsequent analysis in a State or county public health laboratory that is a member of the CDC Laboratory Response Network. The results are generally received 8-10 hours after sample delivery to the laboratory. Biowatch Gen 2 is labor-intensive, and products may not be available until 12-36 hours after a biological agent’s release has occurred. (See Figures 10-3 & 10.4)


Biowatch Gen 3 was canceled in 2014 when the Government Accountability Office reported the program’s upgraded capabilities from Gen 2 were not worth the investment price.  In 2011 the U.S. Committee on Effectiveness of National Biosurveillance Systems said, “Generation 3 involves improvements that include replacing the existing air samplers, which require manual retrieval and laboratory analysis of filters, with automated detectors capable of onsite sample analysis and an anticipated expansion of the BioWatch system’s coverage. Over the next decade, such upgrades will more than double the program’s direct cost to $200 million on an annualized basis. The expansion of coverage mainly drives the higher cost. As shown by comparing the Generation 2 scenario to a scenario in which the Generation 3 technology is used without expanding the number of jurisdictions or deployed detectors, the cost of acquiring and fielding new technology is largely offset by the cost savings associated with automated analysis of the detector samples” (Institute of Medicine (US) and National Research Council (US) Committee on Effectiveness of National Biosurveillance Systems, 2011). Biowatch Gen 3 was to operate 24 hours a day year-round, continuously monitoring the air for agents and expanding to other areas. The BioWatch program is the only U.S. initiative in place for bio surveillance.

In the private sector, when an audit is conducted internally or if a third party and critical items are identified, the offender needs to have an immediate mitigation plan and resolve the issue in a reasonable amount of time. We can see this across the financial health care and retail sector with the enforcement of different federal regulations that must be compliant for the business to remain in business without incurring a fine or completely shut down. A security audit completes in 2017 found the BioWatch website to be critical in high risk of vulnerabilities, including weak encryption that made the website susceptible to online attacks. The website was also noted not to have any protective monitoring. The data on that website included some of the Biowatch air samplers’ locations, which are installed throughout the United States. The results of the Biowatch air samplers and possible pathogens they detect in response plans were available on the website. The website was run by a private company, Logistics Management Institute (LMI), and was considered a (dot)org versus (dot) gov website. James McDonnell, assistant secretary of Homeland security counter countering weapons of mass destruction office, stated the data was housed outside the secure government firewall and were not significant enough to cause a national security threat (Baumgartner, 2019). A security scan found Up to 41 vulnerabilities and attempted access to the portal by unauthorized users. The website was retired in May 2019; however, at the time of this writing, with the Wayback machine, image captures return a positive result except for the final capture taken in April 2019. (Figure 10.5)


At the House Homeland Security Committee subcommittee hearing fall of 2019, experts testified that our biodefense system has been vulnerable and outdated over the past ten years (Rutschman, 2019).


Figure 10.5 BioWatch Portal Snapshots Remain (by Author)




In 1997, the JASON group (a group of academic scientists who advise the U.S. government in science and technology), focused on genetically engineered pathogens and biological weapons. The group came up with six potential threats: binary biological weapons, designer genes, weaponized gene therapy, stealth virus-host swapping diseases, and designer diseases. At the time of their study, some of the technology existed to produce such threats.


Science evolved, presenting commercial opportunities to collect consumers’ DNA to help complete the puzzle of family members’ heritage. The consumer agreed to the fine print ,in the excitement to find out their origin, but also surrendered their personal (private) data to be used for research. As a result, DNA is used by several different industries to profit from the information available from the DNA data collected. The marketing industry launched large-scale consumer advertising companies such as Airbnb© and Spotify©. They use collected DNA datasets to attract customers. The genetic data can give creative strategies to leverage customers’ requirements(and company profits) based on their genomes. [9] [10]


DNA collection can occur for medical reasons.  DNA data can live on the physical computer systems of the lab, a medical professional or their gloves, treatment center/hospital, health care company, university, and in some cases, a state. It was confirmed in 2017 by news reports that Asian based firms have obtained U.S. DNA data and plan to collect additional Americans DNA through commercial and medical means (Javers, 2017). Since that report, several healthcare companies, facilities, and organizations have suffered data breaches. [11]


Genomic data can be digitized. With quantum computing,[12] we can understand the genetic development of living organisms, how they are vulnerable to diseases, and how they would respond to drugs and treatments.  Genomic research has increased the development of medicines and vaccines dramatically. For example, a vaccine was created in less than three months for the mutated flu virus strain H7 N 9.  This converging technology also poses a BW threat when it is used to identify harmful genes or DNA sequences.


There are risks and benefits to dual use DNA collection. The primary concerns are the amount of data being collected; who collects and filters /categorizes the data; who owns the data; where is it stored; and can it be resold. Another issue is can the collected databases be hacked. Data collected by Cambridge Analytics through social media for elections was weaponized and published.


DNA can lead to a designer bioweapon, to affect genocide. Our DNA data can be used to understand how our mind and body will react. Synthetic viruses or genes combined with the use of quantum dots, nanoparticles, and 3D printer materials to create a bioweapon / biodefense agent to target a population or protect that same population. DNA technologies are disturbing and will have a future impact on the airline, marine and most definitely the defense industries.



In 2005, research was completed on the concept of using nanowires, as ultrasensitive electronic sensors to detect biological and chemical agents (Fernando Patolsky, 2005). Dr. Charles Lieber and Professor Fernando Patolsky discuss the creation of a sensor that’s configured with nanowire with the natural oxide coding. The aforementioned receptor construction is more efficient than the current modification of glass or a Silicon oxide to create the sensor (Fernando Patolsky, 2005). When a virus particle binds to an antibody receptor on a nanowire device, the conductance of that device will change from the baseline value. When the virus unbinds again, the conductance will return to the baseline value (Fernando Patolsky, 2005). When the nanowire encounters influenza the nanowire reflects accurate characteristics that are consistent with influenza viruses. The sensor is able to produce optical and electrical data it receives from the nanowire as the virus diffuses near the nanowire device (Fernando Patolsky, 2005). The Harvard team was able to determine the difference in distance of spacing the nanowires over different size areas when the sensor could encounter and detect two other viruses. Dr. Charles Lieber and Professor Fernando Patolsky concluded that nanowire sensors could be key for virus sensing devices for the medical community and used to detect bioterrorism (Fernando Patolsky, 2005).

Advances in nano-biosensor technology offer the ability to alert LEO / DHS to a biological weapons attack. This early warning system permits enactment of  countermeasures such as containment. Dr. Jing Wang of the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (Empa, ETH Zurich) and Zurich University Hospital was tasked with creating a sensor to detect SARS-COV-2. In January 2020, the team began testing sensors to see if they could differentiate bacteria and viruses transmitted in the air (Global Biodefense Staff, 2020). The goal of the sensor was to be used in places like train stations or hospitals. It would measure the virus concentration in the air in real-time (Global Biodefense Staff, 2020). Doctor Wang and his team developed a sensor that combines two different methods to detect viruses using optical and thermal means. The sensor is based on tiny structures of gold nanoislands on a glass substrate (Global Biodefense Staff, 2020) . Artificially produced DNA receptors that match specific coronavirus sequences of SARS CoV-2 are grafted onto the nanoislands (Global Biodefense Staff, 2020). The coronavirus virus genome does not consist of the DNA double-strand as in living organisms. The virus has the DNA of a single strand (Global Biodefense Staff, 2020). Therefore, the receptors on the sensor can identify the virus. The optical component, localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR), can be used to measure whether the sample contains RNA strands of SAR-CoV-2 or SARS-COV. The thermal component, plasmonic photothermal (PPT), can detect whether the DNA strand is single or double using localized heat produced by a laser of a specific wavelength (Global Biodefense Staff, 2020).  The sensor is in the early phase of development and not ready for measurement of COVID-19. When the sensor is completed testing it could be applied to two other viruses. Dr. Wang’s sensor was featured as part of the science -Switzerland April – May 2020 report, sponsored by Swissnex. (Fernando Patolsky, 2005)



  • Pathogens are continuing to grow and disembogue into the human population
  • Biodefense is essential in defending the U.S. from adversaries and preservation of American lives. It represents a significant Disturbing Technology for all three theaters: Airline, Marine and Defense. (Mauroni, 2014)
  • Funding for the scientific community is essential for further discovery, tracking, understanding, and constructing countermeasures against pathogens.
  • Lessons can be learned from past reductions in funding for bioterrorism.[13]
  • Nanotechnologies are the next generation of technology that can contribute significantly to several different fields, including medical and bioterrorism defenses.
  • Cybersecurity plays a critical role in preventing bioterrorism. There needs to be an understanding of adversarial use of the data collected in the public and private sector and stored and transmitted securely.


Post Analysis from a Terrorist Point of View

Terrorists like Disturbing Technologies because they make their mission / goals of population disruption manageable. Biological agents and toxins are the most likely terrorist weapons for the future. They are inexpensive, do not require a great deal of technical expertise or equipment to manufacture, and can be produced without creating a lot of attention. Biological agents  have the best potential as weapons of mass destruction or disruption. They have the ability to inflict extremely high levels of casualties on a target population. It has been estimated by WHO that 50 kilograms of aerosolized anthrax spores dispensed 2 kilometers upwind of a population center of 500,000 unprotected people in an ideal meteorological condition, would travel greater than 20 kilometers downwind, and kill / incapacitate up to 125,000 humans in the path of the biological cloud. It is estimated by the Defense Department that the amount of anthrax equal to a five-pound bag of sugar in size would be enough to kill half the population of Washington, DC. (Burke, 2017)


To be effective against large numbers of people, biological agents must be properly disseminated. Conventional explosives could be used for this purpose, along with common agricultural and home garden spraying equipment modified to generate the smaller particle size of biological materials.  Motorized vehicles, boats, and airplanes could also provide effective dissemination. Spray devices would need nozzles in the 1- 10-micron range for optimum dissemination. Weather conditions are critical for the effective deployment of biological agents as aerosols. The ideal weather would occur during the early morning or evening hours. (Burke, 2017)


The federal government has clamped down on the sale and use of biological agents in research facilities. A program has been developed to control the “Transfer or Receipt of Select agents.” (Burke, 2017)The Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 requires regulation of shipment and receipt of certain microorganisms and toxins. Regulations are detailed in Appendix E of (Burke, 2017) This reference also give over 20 pages of resources, websites, agency contacts, notifications to gain more information or report an incident. (Burke, 2017)






Baumgartner, E. (2019, August 25). It was sensitive data from a U.S. anti-terror program – and terrorists could have gotten to it for years, records show. Retrieved from La Times: https://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-biowatch-20190402-story.html

Bronze, M. S. (2002). Viral agents as biological weapons and agents of bioterrorism. The American journal of the medical sciences, 323(6), 316–325.

Bruce Budowle, S. E. (2020). Microbial Forensics. London: Academic Press.

Burke, R. (2017). Counterterrorism for Emergency Responders, 3rd edition. Boca Raton, FL: CRC.

CDC. (2021, January 16). Infection Control Considerations for High-Priority (CDC Category A) Diseases that May Result from Bioterrorist Attacks or are Considered to be Bioterrorist Threats. Retrieved from www.cdc.gov/: https://www.cdc.gov/infectioncontrol/guidelines/isolation/appendix/bioterror-precautions.html

CDC Emerging Infectious Diseases. (2003, January 17). Rajneeshee Bioterror Attack. Retrieved from Homeland Security Digital Library (HSDL): https://www.hsdl.org/c/tl/rajneeshee-bioterror-attack/

Clare E. Rowland, C. W. (October 2016). Nanomaterial-based sensors for the detection of biological threat agents. Materials Today, V19, No. 8: 464-477.

DrPH, E. H., & Shiel, W. C. (2020, October 16). What Is the Biological Warfare? . Retrieved from eMedicineHealth: https://www.emedicinehealth.com/biological_warfare/article_em.htm

Evers, D., & T.J. Glover, T. M. (2010). Pocket Partner for Law Enforcement, 5th edition. Littleton, CO: Sequoia Publishing.

Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2021, January 12). Weapons of Mass Destruction. Retrieved from FBI: https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/wmd

Fernando Patolsky, C. M. (2005, April). Nanowire Nanosensors. Materials Today, pp. 21-28.

Fish, J., & R.N. Stout, &. E. (2011). Practical Crime Scene Investigations for Hot Zones. Boca Raton, FL: CRC.

Foley, J. B. (2017). A Nation Unprepared: Bioterrorism and Pandemic Response. Fort Leavenworth: Arthur D. Simons Center for Interagency Cooperation.

Global Biodefense Staff. (2020, April 21). A New Optical Biosensor for the COVID-19 Virus. Retrieved from Global Biodefense: https://globalbiodefense.com/2020/04/21/a-new-optical-biosensor-for-the-covid-19-virus/

Global Biodefense Staff. (2020, February 2020). Shutdown of PREDICT Infectious Disease Program Challenged by Senators Warren and King. Retrieved from Global Biodefense: https://globalbiodefense.com/2020/02/04/shutdown-of-predict-infectious-disease-program-challenged-by-senators-warren-and-king/

Google. (2021, January 16). Current Global death toll and cases reported for COVID-19 . Retrieved from www.google.com: www.google.com

Institute of Medicine (US) and National Research Council (US) Committee on Effectiveness of National Biosurveillance Systems. (2011). Biowatch and the Public Health System. Biowatch and Public Health Surveillance: Evaluating Systems for the Early Detection of Biological Threats: Abbreviated Version. Washington D.C.: National Academies Press (US).

Javers, E. (2017, March 14). Official: American DNA info at risk for theft by foreign powers. Retrieved from CNBC: https://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/14/us-official-american-dna-info-at-risk-for-theft-by-foreign-powers.html

Mercer, B. (2016, January 28). SFGATE. Retrieved from That mysterious Homeland Security box plugged into an SF utility pole is a..: https://www.sfgate.com/superbowl/article/That-mysterious-Homeland-Security-box-plugged-6790510.php

Mojidi, H. (2019). Advancing Bio Detection with Biosensors and Nanotechnology for Rapid Interagency Response. InterAgency Journal Vol. 10, No. 2, 44.

Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI). (2015). Biological. Retrieved from Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI): https://www.nti.org/learn/countries/united-states/biological/

Rutschman, A. S. (2019, November 17). Salad bars and water systems are easy targets for bioterrorists – and America’s monitoring system is woefully inadequate. Retrieved from The Conversation: https://theconversation.com/salad-bars-and-water-systems-are-easy-targets-for-bioterrorists-and-americas-monitoring-system-is-woefully-inadequate-126079

Schmidt, C. (2020, April 3). Scienctific America. Retrieved from Why the Coronavirus Slipped Past Disease Detectives: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-the-coronavirus-slipped-past-disease-detectives/

Tara O’Toole, M. M. (April 2002). Shining Light on “Dark Winter”. Clinical Infectious Diseases, Volume 34, Issue 7, 972–983.

Tucker, J. B. (1998, November 6). Biological Weapons in the Former Soviet Union: Am Interview with Dr. Kenneth Alibel. Retrieved from nonproliferation.org: https://www.nonproliferation.org/wp-content/uploads/npr/alibek63.pdf

United Nations. (2021, January 7). History of the Biological Weapons Convention. Retrieved from United Nations: https://www.un.org/disarmament/biological-weapons/about/history/

USAID . (2020, September 30). USAID ANNOUNCES NEW $100 MILLION PROJECT TO ANTICIPATE THREATS POSED BY EMERGING INFECTIOUS DISEASES. Retrieved from USAID: https://www.usaid.gov/news-information/press-releases/sep-30-2020-usaid-announces-new-100-million-project-threats-emerging-infectious

USAID. (2021, January ). USAID PERDICT. Retrieved from USAID: https://www.usaid.gov/sites/default/files/documents/1864/predict-global-flyer-508.pdf

Wheelis, M. (1998). First shots fired in biological warfare. Nature, 395.

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[1] The HAZARD Classification System divides dangerous goods into nine classes of materials for purposes of transportation, identification, and placarding: Class 1- explosives; Class 2 -gases; Class 3-Combustable liquids; Class 4-Flamable solids & water reactive; Class 5- Oxidizing substances; Class 6- Toxic & Infectious substances; Class 7 – Radioactive materials; Class 8 – Corrosive substances & Class 9 – Miscellaneous Hazardous materials. The entire system is further divided into compatibility groups (letters) and special placarding restrictions on all DOT or vehicles in DOT jurisdiction must comply. If it moves it falls under these restrictions.  See (Evers & T.J. Glover, 2010)

[2] Center for Disease Control (CDC) Taxonomy for LEO  of Biological Weapons – Along with the HAZMAT U.N. DOT classification system, there are other classification systems. CDC uses a general system for LEOs (Evers & T.J. Glover, 2010) where:


CDC Category A

These organisms pose a risk to national security because they can be easily disseminated or transmitted from person to person. They result in high mortality rates and have the potential for major public health impact and might cause public and social disruption. They require special action for public health preparedness.

CDC Category B

These are moderately easy to disseminate and result in moderate morbidity rates and low mortality rates. They require specific enhancements of CDC’s diagnostic capability and enhanced disease surveillance.

CDC Category C

These agents include emerging pathogens that could be engineered for mass dissemination in the future because of availability, ease of production and dissemination, potential for high morbidity

and mortality rates, and major health impact.


B= Bacteria

V= Virus

T= Toxin

R = Rickettsial


Consult with current CDC guidelines. (CDC, 2021) Also, Chapter 4 on BTA from (Burke, 2017) discusses precautions and protective equipment in detail.


Dissemination is most likely by aerosol; some could also be used as food or water contaminants; Inhalation is the mist deadly route of exposure in all cases. (Evers & T.J. Glover, 2010)

More official information about biological hazards falls under DOT HAZMAT Guide 153 available in (Evers & T.J. Glover, 2010). From a LEO, forensics, protective gear perspective, one can consult Practical Crime Scene Investigations for Hot Zones. (Fish & R.N. Stout, 2011)

Table 10.2 shows the Biological agents as a function of global development / use.

[3] The James Bond movie Goldfinger had toxins released from crop dusters on Fort Knox troops.

[4] There is a detailed discussion of this incident in (Burke, 2017).

[5] It can be argued and there is corroborative Open-Source evidence to support the theory that COVID-19 was in 2020 a human-engineered / developed bioweapon (BW) in a Chinese Lab in Wuhan, China The postulate is that  it escaped its containment apparatus and spread to the world causing unintended grievous harm and death. Whether this BW theory true, partially true,  negligence or intentionally delivered does not really matter because as of this writing (1/16/2021)  92,775,578 cases have been reported with 1,986,842 COVID-19 deaths. About 29% of reported cases are attributable to North America with 569,333 lost souls. This is a solid example of what a BW can do if not contained or breached countermeasures. (Google, 2021)

[6] LD50 of as toxin, radiation, or pathogen is the dose required to kill half the members of a tested population after a specified test duration. LD50 figures are frequently used as a general indicator of a substance’s acute toxicity. A lower LD50  is indicative of increased toxicity. (Evers & T.J. Glover, 2010)

[7] Anthrax is the Greek word for coal

[8] Virus is Latin for “poisonous slime.”

[9] Think movie Minority Report where Tom Cruise replaces his eye to bypass biometric security controls and as he passes optical readers at a mall, the stores pitch him for their goods based on the wrong profile.

[10] Recognize that the government and LEO all have access to this data. LEO does use DNA data responsibly to solve outstanding felony cases. However, it is up for grabs whether we believe that the government is so attentive and responsible with our private data.

[11] There is little definitive proof that the breaches were related to the DNA data thefts.

[12] Quantum computing is in its infancy. There is plenty of research money and a few startups making a run for this technology. There is lots of hype but not much “commercial beef.”

[13] For example, USAID PREDICT received approximately $200 million over ten years, a fraction of the $2 trillion in emergency-relief spending authorized by Congress as a response to COVID-19 as of March 2020 (Schmidt, 2020).