c. Rickettsia. Rickettsia are very small microscopic organisms, considered to
be a type of bacteria, that reproduce only inside a host cell. They are usually carried by
ticks, lice, or fleas. Examples of diseases caused by rickettsia include typhus, spotted
fever, and query fever (Q fever).
d. Toxins. Toxins are chemical compounds of biological origin. Their origin and
their ability to affect the human immune system separate them from other poisons. The
advent of biotechnology has changed the magnitude of the toxin threat. Toxins that are
only available in small amounts in nature can be produced in large quantities using
bioengineering techniques. Bioengineering may also allow subtle changes in the toxins
that do not alter their toxic properties but decreases the body's natural ability to
neutralize the toxins. The ability to produce large quantities of toxins, the ability to
manipulate their structure, and the ability to target them for specific cells have greatly
increased their potential as effective biological warfare agents.
(1) Mycotoxins. Mycotoxins attack and kill specific types of cells. They may
affect the body's respiratory, circulatory, digestive, or integumentary systems.
Neurotoxin. Neurotoxin interfere with nerve impulse transmission.
(3) Bacterial toxins. Bacterial toxins are derived from bacteria. Neurotoxin
produced by certain species of bacteria are among the most poisonous substances
known. These toxins produces diseases such as botulism and tetanus.
(4) Saxitoxin. Saxitoxin are neurotoxin which are produced by certain
marine plankton. The neurotoxin can accumulate in shellfish, such as mussels and
clams, which feed upon the plankton.
(5) Tetrodotoxins. Tetrodotoxins are neurotoxin which are present in
several species of puffer fish.
(6) Phytotoxin. Phytotoxin are neurotoxin produced by certain species of
higher plants, such as ricin produced by the caster bean which is 100 times more
deadly than cobra venom.
(7) Mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are toxins produced by fungi. They are
sometimes referred to as "yellow rain."
Biological agents may be disseminated using arthropods carrying the disease
bacteria or virus, by contamination of water systems and food processing centers
(canneries, for example), or as a liquid sprayed from tanks or bursting munitions.
The most likely method, though, is by aerosol distributed by an airplane or by missiles
or bombs. In aerosol form, the agent can be quickly spread over a large area. The
aerosol form is also more difficult to detect and diagnose. The aerosol form enters the
human through the respiratory tract, which is the preferred route for military use.