Bioterrorism is terrorism that involved the intentional release of biological agents. These agents include bacteria, viruses, fungi, or toxins, and may be in a naturally occurring or a human-modified form, known as biological weapons and mostly worried (McConnell, 2008). The word “bioterrorism” refers to biological agents used as weapons to personal or political agendas. Bioterrorism differs from other methods of terrorism where the materials needed to make an effective biological agent are readily available, require little specialized knowledge and are inexpensive. Terrorism is defined by the United States government as the “unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social.
The ancient report that the war weapons by using biological agents start in pre-Christian era which is around 300 B.C. The first record appear in Persian, Greek and Roman. The other microbial bioterrorism occur at Kaffa or known as Feodossia, Ukraine in 14th Century which is epidemic of plague was spread among the army. This occur when the Tartars thrown away the cadavers of their army that had been infected with plague to the city. The spreading lethal fevers bioterrorism happened in 1422 during the siege of Carolstein (Douglas, 2002). The way of the soldiers to spread this lethal fevers was by typical way like other bioterrorism which is by thrown cadavers of dead soldiers that been infected into the city. The other record of bioterrorism was during the late 1700s when smallpox infected blankets were given to Native American and British forces as a “gifts”. There were experiments that conducted by the British army on the Island of Gruinard in 1942 that involve the testing of anthrax dirty bombs (Orlando et al., 2013). After the World War II, there were many experiments and researches been conducted to test the bioweapons. The crucial one is in September 1950 which was conducted by the United States Navy. They spread the Serratia mercescens known as a low pathogenic bacterium and can give infection towards the skin and respiratory tract. This experiment conducted at the San Francisco Bay. Several people got the infection in the respiratory system and died (Christopher et al., 1997).
Agents used can be categorized into Category A, Category B, Category C and these agents were classified depended on their capability of the agent to spread, the percentage of mortality lead, the requirement in taking action for public health vigilance and capability of causing the terror in community (N. Wurtz, 2014). Category A agents, easily communicable from a person to another, causing a lot of death and need special precautions (H.J. Jansen, 2014).
Example for category A agents are Bacillus anthracis that cause Anthrax, Clostridium botulinum toxin derived into Botulism, Plague cause by Yersinia pestis, variola major cause Smallpox, Francisella tularensis introduce to Tularemia and Viral hemorrhagic fevers, which include Ebola and Marburgthat causing Filoviruses, also Arenaviruses derived by Lassa (V.Barras, 2014). While category B, involved pathogens have a bit lower ability to place the country safety on peril, mildly contagious and mortality, but public health still should be aware and scrutiny are still required (N. Wurtz, 2014).
The brucellosis that came from Brucella species are among of agents which classified in Category B. Next, condition called epsilon toxin result from infections by Clostridium perfringens, food safety threats by Salmonella species, Escherichia coli O157:H7, Shigella, glanders derived by Burkholderia mallei and melioidosis due to infections of Burkholderia pseudomallei. Chlamydia psittaci also agents in category B that have ability cause psittacosis, Coxiella burnetii that causing Q fever, Ricinus communis that lead to ricin toxin, interestingly Staphylococcal enterotoxin B and typhus fever by Rickettsia prowazekii also included in this classifications (V.Barras, 2014) (N. Wurtz, 2014). Lastly, Category C is the third highest precedence medium of bioterrorism that consist of organism that have low potential in derived endangerment in public security, spreadable ability, ease of production but have capability in causing high number of death (N. Wurtz, 2014). Emerging infectious diseases such as Nipah virus and hantavirus. (V.Barras, 2014)
The major step in bioterrorism preparation is hygiene. It is vital to avoid contact whenever and wherever possible. Protective clothing, hand sanitizers and cleaning agents such as alcohol and bleach are also vital to use as first line defense. These materials should be reachable to all family members. A training resource should also be provided to the hospital workers as it is crucial for the bioterrorism attack preparation, based on commercial microbiology laboratories. This include educations, knowledge and assessments to the health-care workers, so that the right sequences of treating the diseases are achieved.
Next, the sources to obtain stockpiled supplies by the hospitals such as antibiotics, vaccines, immune sera and others are also important to be prepared in order to face the bioterrorism attack. Last but not least, publics should assess readiness to respond to an incident or wide spread infectious disease outbreak caused by a biothreat agent as a preparation to face bioterrorism. Hence, this method is valuable since it can raise public awareness and their cautious to fight against bioterrorism.
In bioterrorism attack, the responsible authority need some times to identify the agent used and all the precautions needed. If you believe that you have been exposed to the bioterrorism agents, the first step is to identify what exactly the type of agents and illness is, how you should treat it and what is the further action need to be taken. The information can be gathered by watching the news, searching on the internet or listening to the radio for the latest and official news. Second, you need to stay alert if there is any medications or vaccinations provided for the disease. Make sure to immediately contact the authorities and find medical assistance regarding the infection you had. You should follow the instructions and advices from the doctors and also the public health officials. Next, other than face mask, you can cover your mouth and nose with any clean fabrics that can filter air but still allow breathing and not suffocating, for examples, handkerchief or towel. This will help to avoid the bioterrorism agents that dispersed into the air from entering your respiratory systems. It is important to stay inside your house for a period of time and avoid being in crowd.
Aside from an individual preparation for bioterrorism attack, the authorities of certain countries also have been enforcing laws to avoid any attack and protect the people. United States government establish a Bioterrorism Act (BTA) in 2002 after the event of September 11, 2001 at World Trade Centre in United States (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention). This act consist of four parts where Title I set up the preparation of emergency room for any possible attack, including access to emergency vaccines and medical supplies available from the “push packages” in guarded warehouses all over the country. Next, Title II address the requirement of registration program for people who deal with toxins and biological agents. Title III implement strict inspection methods on food and drug supply that went in and out of the country while Title IV made some amendment on the Safe Drinking Water Act to keep public water supply safe (Bryant, 2008). The Bioterrorism Act also contain several provision to upgrade and enhance food safety, as well as new enforcement on keeping the food supply free from terrorist acts and other threats.
Malaysia is one of the country that has yet face any event of bioterrorism. Therefore, there is no law has been implemented in this country related to bioterrorism. Despite that, Malaysia’s authorities proved they manage to handle biological agent through the emergence of infectious disease such as Nipah Virus in 1998 and infamous Severe Acute Respiratory System (SARS) in 2003 (Abdullah and Rahim, 2011). Even though they were not an attack of bioterrorism, the authorities effectively take over the situation with the aid of international collaboration. Thus, bioterrorism is a real threat and its occurrence possibility is undeniable because it is defined as something that would happened anytime without prior notice.