Bioterrorism and Your Business
A bioterrorism attack is the deliberate release of viruses, bacteria or other germs (agents) used to cause illness or death in people, animals or plants. These agents are typically found in nature, but it is possible that they can be changed to increase their ability to cause disease, make them resistant to current medicines, or to increase their ability to be spread into the environment. Terrorists use biological agents because they can be extremely difficult to detect and do not cause illness for several hours to several days. Most biological agents, however, are difficult to grow and maintain. Many break down quickly when exposed to sunlight and other environmental factors, while others, such as anthrax spores, are very long lived. Biological agents can be dispersed by spraying them into the air, by infecting animals that carry the disease to humans, and by contaminating food and water. Person-to-person spread may also be possible with diseases such as smallpox.