Bioterrorism and Biological Warfare The question is not if bio-terrorism will occur, but when and where. U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays
Definition of Bio-terrorism • Bio-terrorism is the threat or use of biological agents by individuals or groups motivated by political, religious, ecological, social, or for other ideological objectives to instill fear or cause illness or death in order to achieve their objective.
Biological Weapons • Consists of either living organisms that can reproduce, such as bacteria, or viruses, or toxic materials produced by living organisms, such as toxins or physiologically active proteins or peptides. • Viruses – Venezuelan Equine Enchephalitis (Very Lethal) • Bacteria – Bacillus anthracis (Anthrax) • Toxins – Staphylococcal Enterotoxin and Botulinum Toxin
Why Biologics? • Early Symptoms Similar to Common Illnesses • Take Time to Develop Their Full Potential • Can Lead to Widespread Epidemics Before the Problem, Agent or Source is Recognized.
Biological Warfare – 6th Century BC • Assyrians poisoned enemy wells with rye ergot and hellebore in sieges in Krissa. • Caused vomiting and diarrhea. • Scythian archers used arrows dipped in human feces to cause illness.
Battle of Tortona, Italy 1155 • Barbarossa put human corpses in his enemy’s water supply, successfully contaminating it.
Biological Warfare 14th Century • During an Attack on Kaffa, rats and fleas carried plague to Tatar soldiers. The Tatar armies lead by De Mussis, catapulted corpses of plague victims into the city causing an epidemic. • The city surrendered and the defending Christian Genoese sailors fled to Italy. • Resulted in the European Plague of Black Death
Battle of Carolstein 1422 • Czech Republic – Bodies of plague-stricken soldiers plus 2000 cartloads of excrement are hurled into the ranks of enemy troops causing deadly fevers to quickly break out.
1485 Naples • The Spanish supplied their French enemies with wine laced with leprosy patients’ blood.
Pizarro’s Conquest of South America 15th Century • Improved his chances of victory by presenting to the natives, as gifts, clothing laden with the smallpox virus.
Biological Warfare 1763 • French and Indian War (Indians greatly outnumbered the British and were suspected of being on the side of the French) • Sir Jeffrey Amherst, Commander of British Forces, directs that small-pox bearing blankets be given to Indians in the Ohio River Valley. • Smallpox decimated the Indians
1797 Napoleon • The Austrian fortress at Mantua was of vital strategic importance to both sides during the 1796-1797 campaigns in Northern Italy. • Napoleon attempted to force the surrender of Mantua by infecting the citizens with Swamp Fever.
Biological Warfare US Civil War • W.T. Sherman’s memoirs contain accounts of invading forces often slaughtering animals and dumped the rotting carcasses on water wells as they passed through enemy territory. • They obtained the idea from the Romans, who used dead animals to foul the water supply of their enemies.
Dr. Luke Blackburn • During the American Civil War, Dr. Luke Blackburn, who would later become Kentucky’s governor, tried to infect Union troops by providing them with clothing exposed to smallpox and yellow fever.
WWI • The Entente Powers, led by France, Russia, the United Kingdom and its colonies and dominions, and later Italy (from 1915) and the United States (from 1917), defeated the Central Powers, led by the Austro-Hungarian, German, and Ottoman Empires. • Russia withdrew from the war after the revolution in 1917.
During WWI, as the field of microbiology developed, the causative organisms for many diseases were identified, and many were capable of growth in laboratories. • During the war, most biological attacks were directed at animals using anthrax and glanders.
Biological Warfare WWI • Germany aims an ambitious biological weapons project at its enemies’ livestock (Romania, Italy, France, Russia, Mesopotamia). • Anthrax is used to infect food animals and Glanders to infect horses used by the Calvary.
Anthrax is often considered a good biological agent because of its stability for decades in spore form and ease of production.
Germany WWI Attempted to spread • Cholera in Italy • Plague in St. Petersburg • Biological Bombs over Britain
1915 Dr. Anton Dilger • German-American, Dr. Anton Dilger, grows cultures of Bacillus anthracis (anthrax) and Pseudomonas mallei (glanders), supplied by the German government, in his Washington D.C. home. • The agents and an inoculation device are given to sympathetic dockworkers in Baltimore to infect 3000 head of horses, mules, and cattle destined for the Allied troops in Europe
U.S. Begins Preliminary Testing • Castor Bean Toxin and Ricin “These experiments show two important points: (1) easily prepared preparations of ricin can be made in adhere to shrapnel bullets (2) there is no loss in toxicity of firing and even with the crudest method of coating the bullets, not a very considerable loss of the material itself… It is not unreasonable to suppose that every wound inflicted by a shrapnel bullet coated with ricin would produce a serious casualty…Many wounds which would otherwise be trivial would be fatal.”
Mid 1920’s • Both the United States and the new League of Nations claim that BW is impracticable, either because of inadequate delivery systems or because of enhanced public health and preventive medicine systems. • BW was banned in the 1925 Geneva Protocol signed by 28 nations. • Prohibits use but not development. • The Protocol was not ratified until 1979
Japan Studies the Impact of Disease During War Time • “Silent Enemy” took greater toll of lives than bullets • Initiated preventive measures (creosote pills) • Initiated elaborate sanitation methods (water testing) • Initiated medical advances (field laboratories) • Initially lost 3-4 men to disease vs 1 to bullets • After new measures lost 1.2 disease vs 1.5 bullets
Biological Warfare Begins in 1930’s in Japan Ishii Shiro “If we can stop the effects of disease from killing our own troops, why can’t we harness disease to kill our enemies.”
Japan - Unit 731 / 3000 Scientists and Staff - Experimentation / Manchuria / 10,000 die - Began a series of horrific experiments on human beings outside Harbin, Manchuria, China, an area they occupied.
- The “Kenpeitai” served as a human materials procurement arm for Unit 731 - “We tied them (prisoners) with ropes around their waists,and their hands behind the backs. They couldn’t move. We took them by train in a closed car, then the Unit 731 truck would meet us at the station. It was a strange truck – black with no windows.”
Ishii’s operations started out in Harbin an urban city and also in Tokyo concentrating on vaccines and other “proper” medical research. • For human experiments, a more secluded location was needed. The Japanese built a secret laboratory and prison complex in Beiyinhe, a small village some 100 km south of Harbin. They cleared the town out and the army took over as a restricted military zone and built brick buildings veiled in secrecy. • For two years they used humans like guinea pigs for medical and biowarfare experiments, shrouded in total secrecy.
"to eliminate any chance of leaking out the secret of construction of the 'Square Buildings' by the laborers, they are all sent to special prison and used as the first batch of test objects."
Blood Drainage • At least 500 cubic centimeters was drawn at 2-3 day intervals. Some of the victims became progressively debilitated and wasted. • Still, the blood drainage continued.
Careful records were kept to see how far a human being can be squeezed of blood until death occurs.
When prisoners were too weak to serve as lab materials, they were injected with poison or killed with a blow to the head with an axe. • The brain might then be used for further research. • Life expectancy in the camp was 1 month.
"The fellow knew that it was over for him, and so he didn't struggle." recalled the old former medical assistant of a Japanese Army unit in China in World War II, "But when I picked up the scalpel that's when he began screaming. I cut him open from the chest to the stomach, and he screamed terribly, and his face was all twisted in agony. He made this unimaginable sound, he was screaming so horribly. But then finally he stopped." The former medical assistant who insisted on anonymity, explained the reason for the vivisection. The Chinese prisoner had been deliberately infected with the plague as part of a research project.
Probably more than 6,000-10,000 prisoners were killed by Unit 731, mostly during experiments. Human experiments that were originally conducted for basic medical research quickly developed into research for the development of biological weapons.
How Do We Know About Unit 731? • A prison break occurred during a time of festivals. • Prisoner Li attacked and killed a guard and managed to get the keys to the cells. • 40 Prisoners escaped in leg shackles • A storm knocked out power and aided with their escape.
10 prisoners were gunned down. • Li was killed helping others over a wall • A few made it to a village and villagers hid them. • They later joined resistance fighters in the area and spread the word about the camp. So the camp moved.
Ping Fan • When the prisoners managed to escape and tell the story to some local residents, the Japanese army decided to build a new facility. This much bigger and more secure death laboratory was constructed in Ping Fan, some 20 km South of Harbin. • The key purpose of Ping Fan was the development of biological weapons.
This included deadly experiments with humans, to test all kinds of pathogens and any newly developed delivery system. • But in addition to the bio-warfare experiments, humans were also experimented to death for other purposes, for basic research on new viruses or on frostbite