The whole world is just waiting for the one country, whether it is China, Russia, or North Korea, to set off a nuclear missile that would start a nuclear war and that would only end when there are few survivors left. However, maybe there is another way that a war could have an extreme number of casualties on every continent. The United States Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism believes that an attack with a biological weapon is more likely than one with a nuclear weapon (Suk). This seems strange considering our culture is focused on the big boom that would wipe out the majority of the population. But this would be a silent but deadly terrorist attack using one of the world’s most lethal diseases to cause a worldwide pandemic that would kill millions of people.
There are millions of viruses and bacteria that are known but only few, if put in the wrong hands, could cause a bioterrorism attack. However, the Northern Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has identified 31 biological agents that could be used in a terrorist attack (Evans). The US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease (USAMRIID) has further reduced this list to six: B. anthracis, variola virus, Y. pestis, Francisella tularensis, botulinum toxin, and the hemorrhagic fever viruses (Evans). Each of these agent’s severity depends on how quickly they can spread and how many people will die from them in an amount of time.
B. anthracis (anthrax) is able to live in conditions where air is not available and it can form into heat resistant spores, which makes it ideal for biological warfare (Ahn). This disease has already been proven before to be an effective bioterrorism agent. In October of 2001, one week after the 9/11 attacks, letters with anthrax spores were mailed to members of the media and U.S. senators (Tan). The reason it was caught so fast could be because it was affecting people in the United States with power and those that had to constantly be aware of terrorist attacks. However, if these anthrax spores had released into the general public, more casualties would have probably occurred. Bioterrorists can learn from other people’s mistakes and next time, the country might not be so lucky.
Smallpox (variola virus) is more of a concern because not only can it spread from person to person through the air, but also by contact of contaminated fabrics. Following exposure, one can infect others within seven to twelve days, which could cause a full-scale epidemic before public health authorities could respond (Evans).
The plague (Y. pestis) has happened three times in history with the pneumonic plague being the most dangerous. Within those three plagues, over 200 million people have died (Evans). There is no evidence to say that the plague could not happen again, but this time it would be because someone intentionally exposed it to the public. H.H. Mollaret declared that: ‘The plague has a past; it has a present;...