Portal:Biological warfare

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Biological warfare Portal

Biological warfare (BW), also known as germ warfare, is the use of pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, other disease-causing biological agents, or the toxins produced by them as biological weapons (or bioweapons). There is a clear overlap between biological warfare and chemical warfare, as the use of toxins produced by living organisms is considered under the provisions of both the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention. Toxins, which are of organic origin, are often called "midspectrum agents". A biological weapon may be intended to kill, incapacitate, or seriously impair a person, group of people, or even an entire population. It may also be defined as the material or defense against such employment. Biological warfare is a military technique that can be used by nation-states or non-national groups. In the latter case, or if a nation-state uses it clandestinely, it may also be considered bioterrorism.The Geneva convention restricts the use of biological and chemical weapons as it is against human rights to use them.

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The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem
Early thermal weapons were devices or substances used in warfare during the classical and medieval periods (approx 8th century BC until the mid-16th century AD) which used heat or burning action to destroy or damage enemy personnel, fortifications or territories. Incendiary devices were frequently used as projectiles during warfare, particularly during sieges and naval battles; some substances were boiled or heated to inflict damage by scalding or burning. Other substances relied on their chemical properties to inflict burns or damage. These weapons or devices could be used by individuals, manipulated by war machines, or utilised as army strategy. The simplest, and most common, thermal projectiles were boiling water and hot sand, which could be poured over attacking personnel. Other anti-personnel weapons included the use of hot pitch, oil, resin, animal fat and other similar compounds. Smoke was used to confuse or drive off attackers. Substances such as quicklime and sulfur could be toxic and blinding.

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M114 bomb
Credit: Chemical and Biological Defense Command Historical Research and Response Team

The M114 bomb was a four pound U.S. anti-personnel bomb and biological cluster bomb sub-munition. The M114 was used in the M33 cluster bomb.

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Senate Seal

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The reconstructed 1918 influenza virus
A virus is a microscopic infectious agent that can reproduce only inside a host cell. Viruses infect all types of organisms: from animals and plants, to bacteria and archaea. Since the initial discovery of tobacco mosaic virus by Martinus Beijerinck in 1898, more than 5,000 types of virus have been described in detail, although most types of virus remain undiscovered. Viruses are ubiquitous, as they are found in almost every ecosystem on Earth, and are the most abundant type of biological entity on the planet. The study of viruses is known as virology, and is a branch of microbiology. Viruses consist of two or three parts: all viruses have genes made from either DNA or RNA, long molecules that carry genetic information; all have a protein coat that protects these genes; and some have an envelope of fat that surrounds them when they are outside a cell. The origins of viruses in the evolutionary history of life are unclear. Viruses spread in many ways; plant viruses are often transmitted from plant to plant by insects that feed on sap, such as aphids, while animal viruses can be carried by blood-sucking insects. These disease-bearing organisms are known as vectors. Not all viruses cause disease, as many viruses reproduce without causing any obvious harm to the infected organism. Antiviral drugs have been developed to treat both life-threatening and more minor infections.

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1984 Rajneeshee bioterror attack

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Scott McClellan
The letter was deemed by public health officials not to be a public health threat.
Scott McClellan, regarding letter received by the White House related to 2003 ricin letters incident

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