BIOTERRORISM AND HEALTHCARE 5
Bioterrorismis a form of terrorism with the intention to release microorganismsthat cause health effect or death to the human being. This is anultimatum to the entire world. These microorganisms include bacteria,toxins and other germs (Fullerton et al., 2010). These are a concernto the general public health and suitable medical measures should bedeveloped to prevent it.
Biologicalweapons are in a larger class of weapons known as weapons of massdestruction. This category also includes nuclear, chemical andradiological weapons. Biological weapons are different in that theycould lead to an epidemic. It composes of a biological agent such asviruses, fungi and yeasts. Biological agents are transmitted throughinjection, vector or food. They share common characteristics of massdestruction (Fullerton et al., 2010).
Bioterrorismagents occur in three groups namely Category A, B and C. They areseparated on depending on how fact they are spread and theirconsequences on health. Category A is ranked highest. They includetoxins that are a threat to public health (Fullerton et al., 2010).They can spread from one person to the other and have a high deathrate once infected. The agents include Anthrax and Plague. CategoriesB are considered the second highest priority. They are quicklydisseminated and lead to low mortality rates. The agents includeBrucellosis and food safety threats. Finally, Category C is lessrisky and includes pathogens that can spread in the future. They areeasily produced and are potential to cause health impacts. The agentsinclude Hanta virus that is an infectious disease.
Chemicalagents are substances that are intended to incapacitate living thingsdue to their physical effects. They can also poison plants, animalsas well as the environment. These materials are sometimes used byterrorists to raise alarms on public health. They can be emitted invarious forms such as vapor, solid and liquids. Chemical agentsinclude nerve agents, choking agents and mustard gases. They spreadquickly and can lead to deaths within seconds (Fullerton et al.,2010). These agents can be odorless and tasteless. Chemical warfareagents are chemical matters that are intended to kill and injurehuman beings. More than sixty distinct weapons have been used in thetwentieth century. They have characteristics that differ accordingto the classes and volatility. Types of these chemical agents includetoxins, blood and nerve agents (Fullerton et al., 2010).
Nuclearterrorism refers to an offence committed by people such as terroristsintentionally and with the aid of radioactive materials causingsevere injuries and death (Fullerton et al., 2010). They destroyproperty, environment and thus undermining the economy of the targetcountry. The president of the United States, Atomic Energy Agency andother leaders worldwide has referred nuclear terrorism as a majorthreat to the security and stability of the country. These inhumanacts are preventable with drastic measures. Nuclear terrorism isinternational and thus once of the measures is to strengthenmultilateral treaties and bilateral agreements in the internationalcommunities. This will greatly eliminate capable terrorist groups(Fullerton et al., 2010). It is also paramount to invest heavily ontechnology so that advanced tools and equipment are acquired todetect the networks, materials and activities of terrorists.
Ifthe terrorist decides to go nuclear, the most accessible device theywould consider will be a dirty bomb. These are by-products of nuclearexplosives that contain radioactive substances harmful to livingthings. They would opt for these as they are readily available andnot secured as the actual nuclear weapons. Terrorists would alsoattempt to attack nuclear power plants (Fullerton et al., 2010). Thishas similar consequences as radiological explosives. These attackswould lead to spread of waste chemicals, gas and fuels to the sitescausing a lot of casualties.
Foodterrorism is a deliberate interference with food meant for humanconsumption with chemicals, biological agents and nuclear particleswith an aim to inflict injury or death to human beings disrupting theeconomic and social stability (Fullerton et al., 2010). A singlecontamination with a particular kind of food can cause injuries tohundreds of people.
Cropsand animals agents as biological terrorism has the potential to causediseases on plants and animals. Humans rely on plants and animals forsurvival, and hence, these pathogens should be evaluated (Fullertonet al., 2010).
Theextensive use of nuclear medicine, tomography and the riskspertaining ionizing radiation exposure as a result of imaging, hascome to the public domain and professional awareness leading tomisunderstanding (Fullerton et al., 2010). The use of imaging hasincreased globally over the last few centuries. They are less risky,and medical experts recommend it on patients.
Fullerton,C. S., Norwood, A. E., & Ursano, R. J. (2010). Bioterrorism:Psychological and public health interventions.Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press.