special instruments that the presence of biological agents can be
At present the capabilities of such instruments are very
h. Decay of Agent.
Since biological agents are living microorganisms, they are
disseminated. Refrigeration is necessary during storage and
reduce the rate of loss of viability and virulence of the
rate at which most microorganisms die is predictable and is
as the "decay rate".
i. Ease of Production.
Biological agents are the least expensive of the mass casualty weapons.
Any enemy nation with a modest biological research or production base,
such as in the pharmaceutical or brewing industry, can produce biological
j. Severity of Effects.
Effects might be either lethal or nonlethal, incapacitating. Lethal or
killing agents can produce death in susceptible individuals, but from a
practical standpoint, death occurs only in a certain percentage of those
exposed. The nonlethal pathogenic agents usually do not kill, but might
produce infection or disease with militarily significant disability among
susceptible exposed individuals.
Food and industrial products can be
tendered unsafe or unfit for use by contamination or by the effects
General Characteristics of Toxins.
Generally, any poisonous substance of microorganism, vegetable, or animal
origin is called a toxin. True toxins are of an unstable protein nature.
They require a period of incubation or a latent period to produce
symptoms and induce the formation of specific antitoxins in suitable
Once a toxin-producing pathogen has entered the body, various toxins can
disrupt the delicate physiochemical balance within the body's cells and
disease can result. These toxins can be broadly classed into two types,
depending upon their composition, resistance to heat, and method of
release from the pathogen.
Exotoxins are proteins of varying molecular weight. Some of these are
Exterotoxins are exotoxins which are produced by certain
staphylococci. Their primary action is upon the digestive