An overview of the use of chemical and biological weapons in modern warfare

Contact Author Soldiers often wore gas masks during World War I because of the threat of mustard gas.

An overview of the use of chemical and biological weapons in modern warfare

Infectious Agents as Tools of Mass Casualties Historically, outbreaks wars of microbial species against the human species have killed far more people than war itself.

Worldwide, naturally occurring infectious diseases remain the major causes of death. Still, a substantial number of people approximately 70, die each year from infectious diseases 2.

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The travel and trade necessary for economic globalization, continued potential for transmission of infectious agents from animals to humans, and large populations living in proximity in major urban areas of the world, make disease outbreaks a major threat.

The resistance of common pathogens to the available antimicrobial agents adds significantly to the threat. Advances in public health, diagnostic and pharmacological interventions are needed to protect the population from emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases. The global nature of infectious disease threats is well described in a statement prepared by Dr.

BioterrorismNational Security and Law Bioterrorism has now been defined as the intentional use of a pathogen or biological product to cause harm to a human, animal, plant or other living organisms to influence the conduct of government or to intimidate or coerce a civilian population 4.

Biological agents are easy to develop as weapons, are more lethal than chemical weapons, are less expensive and more difficult to detect than nuclear weapons 5. Diseases caused by biological agents are not only a public health issue but also a problem of national security. Two simulated biological attacks, Dark Winter small pox and TOPOFF plaguein the United States demonstrated serious weaknesses in the public health system that could prevent an effective response to bioterrorism or severe naturally occurring infectious diseases 6,7,8,9, The intentional dispersal of anthrax through the United States Postal Service that followed the terrorist attacks of September 11,brought these issues into a clear focus.

The United States government began a process to strengthen the public health infrastructure. The need for law reform was recognized as law has long been considered as an important tool of public health The power to act to preserve the Public's Health is constitutionally reserved primarily to the states as an exercise of their police powers.

Some states like Colorado and Rhode Island had developed legislation or administrative public health plans for a bioterrorism event prior to September 1, The Model Act was designed to update and modernize the state public statutes and to avoid problems of inconsistency, inadequacy and obsolescence.

An overview of the use of chemical and biological weapons in modern warfare

This act provides state actors with the powers to detect and contain bioterrorism or a naturally occurring disease outbreak. The Model Act is structured to facilitate five basic public health functions i Preparedness, comprehensive planning for a Public Health emergency; ii Surveillance, measures to detect and track Public Health emergencies; iii Management of Property, ensuring adequate availability of vaccines, pharmaceuticals and hospitals as well as providing power to abate hazards to the Public's Health; iv Protection of Persons, powers to compel vaccination, testing, treatment, isolation and quarantine when clearly necessary; and v Communication, providing clear and authoritative information to the public.

The act also contains a modernized, extensive set of principles and requirements to safeguard personal rights. NEJM, April The bill is intended to improve the health system's ability to respond to bioterrorism, protect the nation's food supply and drinking water from bioterrorist attacks, speed the development and production of new drug treatments and vaccines, address shortages of specific types of health professions, improve coordination of federal anti-bioterrorism activities, increase investment in federal, state, and local preparedness and expand controls over the most dangerous biological agents and toxins.

The American Society for Microbiology ASM has testified before congress on issues surrounding biosecurity and has worked closely with congress in the drafting of Title II to balance Public Health concern over safely and security with need to protect legitimate scientific research and diagnostic testing.

The notice states that each facility should designate a responsible facility official RFO to complete the notification of possession form by September 10, The RFO will need to inventory the facility and consult with others e.

Principal Investigators to obtain the required information. In order to avoid inconsistencies and noncompliance, at the July meeting, it was recommended to the Committee that the Principal Investigators provide a complete list of all the biological agents being used in their laboratories.

The Safety Officer would then use the information needed to register with the Secretary of Health and Human Services and provide inspections to ensure safety and compliance with the requirements. Historical Perspective and Trends Related to Bioterrorism The intentional use of living organisms or infected materials derived from them has occurred over centuries during war and "peace" time by armies, states, groups and individuals 14,15, One of the first recorded uses of a biological agent in the war was in BC.

The Carthaginian soldiers led by Hannibal used snakes in the battle against King Eumenes of Perganium and achieved a victory 17, As early as BC, the Greeks polluted the wells and drinking water supplies of their enemies with animal corpses.

The use of catapults and siege machines introduced new technology to biological warfare. Some of the more recent events of biological warfare are chronicled below - The Tartars catapulted bodies infected with plague into Caffa now Ukraine in at the end of a 3 day siege.

The inhabitants of Central and South America were decimated by small pox and measles that accompanied the Spanish conquistadors. British forces used blankets contaminated with small pox to infect North American Indians in the 18th century.

The modern era of biological weapons development began immediately before and during World War II. The Japanese released fleas infected with plague in Chinese cities in the 's and 's.- 's: The fist use of chemical and biological weapons in combat leads to efforts to ban their use.

The Geneva Protocol prohibits the use of biological and chemical weapons in war. 1. Only that degree and kind of force, not otherwise prohibited by the law of armed conflict, required for the partial or complete submission of the enemy with a minimum expenditure of time, life, and physical resources may be applied.

Defence CBRN Centre 1. Overview. The Defence Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear Centre (DCBRNC) designs and runs courses that qualify individuals of all 3 services for operational.

The Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare, usually called the Geneva Protocol, is a treaty prohibiting the use of chemical and biological weapons in international armed conflicts.

The ultimate internet resource page covering all aspects of nuclear (including radiological), biological, and chemical warfare. This site provides over links to public, government, and corporate sites, repository of CBRN-related material, links to current WMD/CBRN/NBC-related news, and a CBRN discussion board.

Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist (ESWS) STUDY GUIDE. July 25, This Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist (ESWS) study guide has been written to assist personnel on Kitty Hawk in becoming designated as an Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist.

Chemical and Biological Weapons: Use in Warfare, Impact on Society and Environment