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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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Shiro Ishii, commander of Unit 731
Japanese war crimes occurred during the period of Japanese imperialism. Some of the incidents have also been described as an Asian Holocaust and Japanese war atrocities. Some war crimes were committed by military personnel from the Empire of Japan in the late 19th century, although most took place during the first part of the Shōwa Era, the name given to the reign of Emperor Hirohito, until the military defeat of the Empire of Japan, in 1945. Special Japanese military units conducted experiments on civilians and POWs in China. One of the most infamous was Unit 731 under Shirō Ishii. Victims were subjected to vivisection without anesthesia, amputations, and were used to test biological weapons, among other experiments. Anesthesia was not used because it was believed to affect results. In 2006, former IJN medical officer Akira Makino stated that he was ordered—as part of his training—to carry out vivisection on about 30 civilian prisoners in the Philippines between December 1944 and February 1945. The surgery included amputations. Ken Yuasa, a former military doctor in China, has also admitted to similar incidents he was compelled to participate in.

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Buboe
Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

This plague patient is displaying a swollen, ruptured inguinal lymph node, or buboe. After the incubation period of 2-6 days, symptoms of the plague appear including severe malaise, headache, shaking chills, fever, and pain and swelling, or adenopathy, in the affected regional lymph nodes, also known as buboes.

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J. Robert Oppenheimer

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Escherichia coli
Escherichia coli (commonly abbreviated E. coli; and named after its discoverer), is a Gram negative rod-shaped bacterium that is commonly found in the lower intestine of warm-blooded organisms (endotherms). Most E. coli strains are harmless, but some, such as serotype O157:H7, can cause serious food poisoning in humans, and are occasionally responsible for product recalls. The harmless strains are part of the normal flora of the gut, and can benefit their hosts by producing vitamin K2, or by preventing the establishment of pathogenic bacteria within the intestine. E. coli are not always confined to the intestine, and their ability to survive for brief periods outside the body makes them an ideal indicator organism to test environmental samples for fecal contamination. The bacteria can also be grown easily and its genetics are comparatively simple and easily-manipulated or duplicated through a process of metagenics, making it one of the best-studied prokaryotic model organisms, and an important species in biotechnology and microbiology. E. coli was discovered by German pediatrician and bacteriologist Theodor Escherich in 1885, and is now classified as part of the Enterobacteriaceae family of gamma-proteobacteria.

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Terrorism refers to the use or threat of force or violence against people or property. A bioterrorist attack releases viruses, bacteria, or other germs to cause illness or death. These biological agents are typically found in nature. But they can sometimes be made more harmful by increasing their ability to cause or spread disease, or to resist medical treatment. Biological agents spread through the air, water or in food. They can be very hard to detect, and they don't cause illness for several hours or days. Some agents can also be spread from person to person. Scientists worry that anthrax, botulism, hemorrhagic fever viruses such as Ebola, plague, or smallpox could be used as biological agents. Biodefense involves medical measures to protect people against biological agents. This means medicines and vaccinations. It also means medical research and preparations to defend against bioterrorist attacks.

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