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Bioterrorism: Deadly Threat

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Bioterrorism: Deadly Threat

October 06, 2009

The deliberate release of viruses, bacteria or other germs to cause illness or death in people, animals or plants is considered bioterrorism. Experts fear that agents like anthrax, smallpox or the plague could potentially be manipulated to make them even more deadly, more resistant to current medicines, or more likely to spread into the environment. Since the late 1990s, the United States has been expanding the number of laboratories capable of detecting bioterrorism agents, beefing up national and local emergency preparedness and stockpiling antidotes, such as Cipro for anthrax exposure, and smallpox vaccine. But vaccines can have serious side-effects. The smallpox vaccine, mothballed for years, is now being administered to troops and contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, it has been shown to have serious side effects, including myocarditis, a potentially fatal infection of the heart that occurs 1 in 175 vaccinated individuals. The vaccine can also sicken unvaccinated people who come in close with those who have been inoculated with the live vaccine. Updated February 2010

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