March 29, 2008
Bioterrorism is the utilization of
microorganisms or toxins in order to produce a disease and/or death
in human beings, animals or plants.
Different from conventional weaponry,
relatively economic means are used that allow the elimination of
living beings without destroying the surrounding atmosphere.
The most probably method for spread of bioweapons is aerial
transmission, continuing into water supplies and food. The
CDC (US Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention, Atlanta) has subdivided into three categories the
aggressiveness of "Bioweapons".
Category A comprises:
The data from the WHO refer to the
presence of approximately 1000/3000 cases per year of the plague,
distributed mostly between Africa, South America and Asia.
In the United States the last city
epidemic of plague was in 1924-25, in Los Angeles, and from there
the disease manifested in the rural areas with a 10-15 cases the
year, above all in the New Mexico, Arizona north and south Colorado
region, and also in the California, southern Oregon and western
In Asia the plague is diffused in the
the Caucasus and also in Russia, China, and in some zones of
south-western and Southeastern Asia.
The plague is present in:
Uganda (November 1988, 49 cases)
Malawi (July 1999, 74 cases)
Namibia (May 1999, 39 cases)
The plague is absent in Europe and
Never as hour has been taken place, in our history, the requirement
to one preparation in sight of an eventual terrorist attack. A
terrorist attack could be put in action to means of crews of mass
destruction, of chemical products, therefore like by means of crews
of biological nature which virus, bacteria and other germs. In case
of attack with use of products chemical and/or radioactive , the
effects would be immediate.
Many hours, instead, even days, could pass silently before stating
the devastating effects of an attack of biological nature. CDC
declare that the plague is a possible biological weapon because the
bacterium occurs in nature and could be isolated and grown in
quantity in a laboratory.
To understand a potential act of
bioterrorism, it is important to recognize the presentation of
incubation period is 2-6 days. Early symptoms are
lymphadenopathy and fever. Patients develop swollen lymph
nodes, which are called buboes. If bubonic plague is not
treated, the bacteria can scatter through the bloodstream
causing septicemia or infect the lungs.
incubation period is 2-4 days with range of 1-6 days.
Symptoms are acute attack of fever, myalgias associated with
progressive lack of energy. It is caused by direct
inhalation of infective respiratory droplets or aerosolized
bacteria. Chest radiographs of untreated patients show
rapidly expanding bronchopneumonic infiltrates. Without
early diagnosis and therapy in less than 24 hours, pneumonic
plague is generally fatal.
Septicemic Plague is
frequently fatal also when treated. Occurs when Yersinia
Pestis increase in the blood. Symptoms are acute attack of
fever, prostration, vomit, nausea, abdominal pain, purpura.
Subsequently the disease may develop disseminated
intravascular coagulation (DIC).
(Abstract - Prof. Camillo Di
Cicco, MD, presented at the 15th Congress of the European
Academy of Dermatology and Venereology.)