Bioterrorism refers to form of terrorism that involves intentional dissemination or release of biological agents. The agents can be viruses, bacteria or toxins and can also be referred to as germ warfare. Biological agents are mainly found in nature but sometimes they can be modified by the terrorist as to make agents more toxic. Biological agents are used by the terrorists to attain their social or political goals and are used for killing or injuring people, plants and animals. Biological weapons are dangerous as some of these agents are transmitted from one person to another and infection might take hours or days to become noticeable.
Bioterrorism is an invaluable tool as biological agents are relatively inexpensive and can cause widespread fear beyond the actual damage they can cause. They are mainly used by the terrorists to create mass panic and disruption of state or economy. The global market for bioterrorism is segmented on the type of different biological agents currently being used and their mode of delivery. Agents such as anthrax, tularemia, small pox, bubonic plague, botulinum toxin and viral hemorrhagic fevers pose a high threat to national security. Another category involves toxins such as typhus, glanders, Q fever, viral encephalitis and others poses moderate threat and involves low mortality. Last category involves emerging toxins that are engineered for mass dissemination, high mortality rate and ability to cause major health impact. Hantavirus, Nipah Virus, SARS, HIV/AIDS and H1N1 virus falls under this above mentioned category. The mode of delivery of these biological agents can be via aerosol dissemination, water contamination, food contamination, insect vectors and others.
However, federal government supports many programs and researches but it does not provide any direct protection against bioterrorists attacks for many important buildings. These buildings include theaters, shopping centers, large buildings and others. In the United States virtually all these buildings remain susceptible to bioterrorist attack. Key protection to these facilities involves the presence of warning systems which provide immediate response to such attacks.
Some of the major players that provide and bioterrorism defense products are Acambis Plc, Evogen, Inc., Human Genome Sciences, ICX Technologies, Inc., PharmAthene, Inc. and others.
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