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Category A Microorganisms

Anthrax (See endnote 37)

Anthrax is a highly infectious disease caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis which is normally found in soil and affects domestic and wild animals throughout the world. People are affected when the spores of anthrax get into the body, become bacteria, multiply, and produce toxins that cause fever, cough, chest discomfort, a period of improvement and then respiratory failure plus a collapse of appropriate blood flow through the body. Anthrax makes a good weapon because the spores are found in nature, can be produced in a laboratory, and can be dispersed into the environment and remain there for a long period of time. It can be put into powders, sprays, food, water, and done in such a manner that no one would know what has happened, and has already been used as a weapon. It can cause mass casualties and devastate the economy while creating panic in the public. The spores can be carried by the wind or on people’s clothing. Inhalation of anthrax spores will kill quickly if not treated at once.

Botulism (See endnote 31)

Botulism is caused by a spore-forming organism, the bacterium C. botulinum, which is naturally found in soil, and can easily be isolated and therefore concentrated. Three of the five types of botulism are very important because they involve food, infect infants, or get into wounds. In foodborne botulism, the toxin causes illness within several hours to several days after food consumption and results in double vision, slurred speech, difficulty in swallowing, muscle weakness starting in the upper body first and moving down through the feet, and paralysis of the breathing muscles which may result in death. Infant botulism is caused when the infant consumes the spores of the bacteria and then they grow in the intestines and release the toxin. Wound botulism is caused when the toxin is produced in a wound that is infected with the microorganism. Botulism toxin in solution is colorless, odorless, and believed to be tasteless. Once the toxin is absorbed in the body, the bloodstream carries it to various nerve endings and the toxin binds with them blocking the release of acetylcholine.

 
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