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Biological Agents as Weapons
Biological warfare (BW) is the use of microbiological agents for hostile purposes. Such use is contrary to international law and has rarely taken place during formal warfare in modern history, despite the extensive preparations and stockpiling of biological agents carried out during the 20th century by most major powers (including development of strains resistant to multiple drugs). The area of most concern is the use of BW agents by terrorist groups. BW agents are thought by some to be an ideal weapon for terrorists. These agents may be delivered clandestinely, and they have delayed effects, allowing the user to remain undetected.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has created a priority list of biological agents and toxins (see Table: CDC High-Priority Biological Agents and Toxins). The highest-priority are Category A.
The deliberate use of BW agents to cause mass casualties would probably entail dissemination of aerosols to create disease via inhalation, and thus inhalational anthrax and pneumonic plague are the 2 diseases most likely to occur under these circumstances.
CDC High-Priority Biological Agents and Toxins
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