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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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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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Wood Green ricin plot
Credit: United States Department of State

Colin Powell's UN presentation slide showing alleged "UK poison cell" as part of global network.

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Ebola
Ebola is the virus Ebolavirus (EBOV), a viral genus, and the disease Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF), a viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF). There are four recognised species within the ebolavirus genus, which have a number specific strains. The Zaire virus is the type species, which is also the first discovered and the most lethal. Electron micrographs show long filaments, characteristic of the Filoviridae viral family. The virus interferes with the endothelial cells lining the interior surface of blood vessels and coagulation. As the blood vessel walls become damaged and the platelets are unable to coagulate, patients succumb to hypovolemic shock. Ebola is transmitted through bodily fluids. Skin and conjunctiva exposure may also lead to transmission, but to a lesser extent. Ebola first emerged in 1976 in Zaire. It, however, remained largely obscure until 1989 with a widely publicized outbreak in Reston, Virginia, USA.

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William Cohen
The United States remains concerned at the threat of proliferation, both of biological warfare expertise and related hardware, from Russia. Russian scientists, many of whom are unemployed or have not been paid for an extended period, may be vulnerable to recruitment by states trying to establish biological warfare programs.
William Cohen, November 25, 1997

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Concepts
Biological agents
Biological warfare topics
Modern bioterrorist incidents
Prevention and response


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