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A comment from Genome Biology

Sixteenth century prayer, attributed to Thomas Nashe

Gregory Petsko(petsko@braneis.edu)

Germ warfare. A new terror from an old idea — almost as old, perhaps, as war itself. During the Middle Ages armies besieging a city would sometimes hurl the corpses of plague victims over the ramparts in an attempt to infect the population within the walls. In 1864, during the American Civil War, a group of Confederate spies (today they would be called terrorists) based in Canada attempted to spread yellow fever through the cities of the North via the clothing of the disease's victims. An outbreak of human anthrax occurred in Sverdlovsk, Union of Soviet Socialists Republic (now Ekaterinburg, Russia) in April 1979. Soviet officials attributed this to consumption of contaminated meat, but Western governments believed it resulted from inhalation of spores accidentally released from a nearby biological weapons research facility.

Almost twenty years later, Paul Jackson of the Los Alamos National Laboratory and Paul Keim at Northern Arizona...

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