is seen as a clear and present danger, although historically, acts
of bioterrorism have been relatively unpredictable, rare and, thus
far, small-scale events. The risk of an event is elevated by increasing
contact among species and a global connectivity that provides rapid
dissemination of infectious diseases regardless of origin. Virtually
any pathogenic microbe could be used by bioterrorists. An attack
may be difficult to distinguish from a naturally occurring infectious
disease outbreak; however, consequences are likely to be similar.
The agricultural sector is extremely vulnerable to bioterrorist
attacks because animals and plants have little or no innate resistance
to foreign pathogens and are not vaccinated or otherwise protected
against these diseases. It is also important to note that weapons
or delivery systems are not an issue because the animals and plants
themselves are the primary vector for transferring agents. Many
bioterrorism agents are zoonotic in origin, thus an attack on animal
populations could pose a health risk to humans. Additionally, disease
outbreaks resulting from bioterrorism could jump to wildlife species,
persist in the environment, replace locally adapted enzootic strains,
expand their range, or emerge as a new zoonotic disease in na´ve
human and animal populations.
Biological weapons, Bioterrorism, Bioterrorists, Pathogens, Zoonoses.