Terrorism

BIOLOGICAL AGENTS AS WEAPONS: MEDICAL IMPLICATIONS

Issue 1 and Volume 152.

BIOLOGICAL AGENTS AS WEAPONS: MEDICAL IMPLICATIONS BY KEN MILLER The effectiveness of an attack involving biological agents rests heavily on the method used to disseminate them. Human exposure to biological agents could be respiratory, gastrointestinal, cutaneous (through the skin), or through live vectors (as mosquitoes or other insects) or person to person. Of these, the respiratory route is the most important. The cutaneous route is the least likely mode of exposure for causing serious disease. For maximum effectiveness, a biological agent must be delivered as an aerosol. But not just any aerosol will work. To penetrate the lungs deeply enough to cause serious infection, the aerosol particles must be between one and five microns in diameter (one micron is one one-thousandth of a millimeter). Larger particles are filtered by the upper respiratory tract; smaller particles are unstable in ambient environmental conditions. As you would expect, weather conditions at the target…

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