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:: Section 8 of 10

Bioaerosols as Agents of Bioterrorism

Several pathogenic bioaerosols are currently considered to be potential agents of bioterrorism. As has already been discussed, there are many pathogens that can be transmitted via the airborne route. The airborne transmission of pathogens can be quick and effective, especially in indoor scenarios, causing heightened concerns about their potential use.

Perhaps the most infamous bioaerosol in contemporary times is the spore of the bacteria Bacillus anthracis. The spore formation makes the pathogen resistant to inactivation, and the release into a building with central air quickly contaminates the entire structure.

Another pathogenic bioaerosol of concern is smallpox. Although it was once presumed to be eradicated following a successful global immunization campaign, many countries maintained small stocks for scientific purposes. In the wrong hands, the pathogen could be dangerously potent, especially considering that smallpox immunizations have not been required in the US since the mid-1970s.

People are not the only direct targets of bioterrorism. Airborne crop pathogens also have the potential to devastate countries. Recall the horrendous effect of the fungi in Ireland during the Irish Potato Famine. Although crops and economies are more diverse in present time, the destruction of a portion of a large crop in America could still prove devastating.