Biochemical Warfare Essay

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Biochemical weapons are a major factor in warfare in the upcoming years. These weapons are easy to make, efficient, and deadly which increases the threat even more if in the wrong hands. Biochemical weapons have been used in the past including World War 1, World War 2, Iran-Iraq War, and acts of terrorism. Many bacterial, viral agents and toxins can put public health in risk, in the case of biochemical attack. These pathogens, if used, will pose a huge dilemma with public health and can cost many casualties in the way of all the chaos caused by the attack. First, There is a wide range of types of biochemical weapons. Biochemical weapons can be viruses, bacteria, and even toxins. One of the most common biological weapons include anthrax, a disease of humans and animals, instigated by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis, a facultative, gram-negative, nonmotile, anaerobic, and spore creating organism. Another highly used biological weapon includes smallpox. The smallpox (variola) virus is the most considerable of the animal viruses. The virus particles are unusually shaped as bricks to ovoid and are indistinguishable from other viruses. The variola virus comprises of double-stranded DNA and has an intricate structure. Another toxin includes botulinum toxin. Botulinum toxin is one of the most deadly substances known to humanity; it is a neurotoxin generated from the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. The toxin interferes with neurotransmission of the brain, causing paralysis throughout the body. Botulinum is also used clinically, but is very unstable; more information is needed about the toxin in order to move further in advancements. In conclusion the variety of weapons is immense because of the natural substances that are converted into lethal threat. There are three main routes of infection in which biochemical weapons can affect a person. One way is by aerosol, the suspension of a gas in a container, which can be infected in the air. The toxin is converted into tiny droplets or turned into vapor. This way the toxins can enter the body through inhalation of the air. Usually, the toxin sprayed across target in order to get maximum results. The wind also has a major factor, spreading the sprayed toxin across a wide-scale area. Delivery through inhalation is the most common method, and is used in most cases in biochemical attacks. Another technique of delivery is by ingestion of food. Some toxins are deposited into certain foods in order to gain access to the intestines. When in the intestines, the toxin travels into the bloodstream, from there it most likely blocks nerve function leading to respiratory failure. Another type of entrance is the consumption of water. In most of these cases, water is contaminated with agents such as Staphylococcus aureus, Ricin (plant), and Trichothecene (fungus). These agents are less dense so that they are less detectable. Only certain substances can withstand the fluidity of the water, most of these toxins are nerve agents. Most chemical weapons are meant to shut down or slow down a certain system of your body. Biochemical weapons are broken down into four categories; Nerve, Asphyxiate/Blood, Vesicant/Blister, Choking/Pulmonary. Nerve agents include Sarin and VX gas; their main role is inactivating enzymes that control synapses in order to prevent the breakdown of neurotransmitters in the synapse. Side effects include blurred vision, headache, nausea, muscle twitching, and seizures. Also the amount of time it takes for the agent to fully affect you, is minutes if inhaled, and about 10 hours if contacted with skin. Blood- infecting agents comprise of cyanide-based poisons that block cells from utilizing oxygen. This causes cells to use anaerobic respiration, producing excess amounts of lactic acid. The result for the victim is red skin, confusion, nausea, and metabolic acidosis. These agents have an immediate reaction, which makes them one of most deadly substances. Blister agents consist...
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