Biowarfare: Where do we stand?

Kalpita S. Shringarpure, Keyur Brahme


Use of biological weapons has dated since times immemorial and the fear of such weapons in sync with the ever growing technology looms large on every part of the world. Biological warfare dates long back, when Hannibal first used the ‘serpents’ in earthen pots to be hurled against the enemy to sophisticated Biowarfare weapons such as Bacillus anthracis and Pseudomonas pseudomallei. To prohibit the use of such biological weapons, international treaties were prepared in 1925 and 1972; but to no avail. Many nations have stocked biological warfare agents, and there is possibility that terrorists may acquire the expertise to use these destructive agents. Advantages of Biowarfare agents are that they are produced rapidly, are cost-effective, can disseminate and affect a large area leading to high morbidity and mortality. With the upsurge in chances of biological warfare being used for defense or terrorism, there is a need for a robust surveillance system involving the health care sector along with integration of public health personnel, security, intelligence, diplomats and law enforcement agencies. Thus for the world, the time has come to establish a mindset to wage a war against this Biowarfare, try to discover newer antibiotics and personal protective equipment, acquire ‘state-of-the-art’ detectors and focus on the available intelligence. Awareness among the public, clinicians and public health experts, stock piling of drugs and vaccines, allocation of funds and Biowarfare preparedness is the need of the day.


Bioterrorism, Warfare, Biowarfare preparedness

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