The recent targeting of individuals and groups with the anthrax bacterium (Bacillus anthracis) has heightened the concern of the global community to bioterrorism. Unfortunately, the particular anthrax threat, and the responses discussed publicly, represent the tip of the iceberg. The anthrax bacterium cannot be transmitted through casual contact and is susceptible to antibiotics. In general, methods for anthrax prevention, detection, and treatment exist. Of far greater concern are readily transmissible biowarfare viral agents for which there may be no, or limited, medical treatments.

Although only a limited number of viruses are considered suitable as biowarfare agents, a greater number might be made suitable through genetic engineering or other modifications. Those viral agents that have not been recognized previously as credible biowarfare agents pose a special threat, because their use would contain the element of surprise. For such agents, there would be no vaccines for prevention, no detection, and...

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