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Portal:Biological warfare

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Biological warfare Portal


Biological warfare (BW)—also known as germ warfare—is the use of biological toxins or infectious agents such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi with the intent to kill or incapacitate humans, animals or plants as an act of war. Biological weapons (often termed "bio-weapons", "biological threat agents", or "bio-agents") are living organisms or replicating entities (viruses, which are not universally considered "alive") that reproduce or replicate within their host victims. Entomological (insect) warfare is also considered a type of biological weapon. This type of warfare is distinct from nuclear warfare and chemical warfare, which together with biological warfare make up NBC, the military initialism for nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare using weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). None of these are considered conventional weapons, which are deployed primarily for their explosive, kinetic, or incendiary potential.

Biological weapons may be employed in various ways to gain a strategic or tactical advantage over the enemy, either by threats or by actual deployments. Like some chemical weapons, biological weapons may also be useful as area denial weapons. These agents may be lethal or non-lethal, and may be targeted against a single individual, a group of people, or even an entire population. They may be developed, acquired, stockpiled or deployed by nation states or by non-national groups. In the latter case, or if a nation-state uses it clandestinely, it may also be considered bioterrorism.

Biological warfare and chemical warfare overlap to an extent, as the use of toxins produced by some living organisms is considered under the provisions of both the Biological Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention. Toxins and psychochemical weapons are often referred to as midspectrum agents. Unlike bioweapons, these midspectrum agents do not reproduce in their host and are typically characterized by shorter incubation periods.

The use of biological weapons is prohibited under customary international humanitarian law, as well as a variety of international treaties. The use of biological agents in armed conflict is a war crime.

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The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem
Early thermal weapons were devices or substances used in warfare during the classical and medieval periods (approx 8th century BC until the mid-16th century AD) which used heat or burning action to destroy or damage enemy personnel, fortifications or territories. Incendiary devices were frequently used as projectiles during warfare, particularly during sieges and naval battles; some substances were boiled or heated to inflict damage by scalding or burning. Other substances relied on their chemical properties to inflict burns or damage. These weapons or devices could be used by individuals, manipulated by war machines, or utilised as army strategy. The simplest, and most common, thermal projectiles were boiling water and hot sand, which could be poured over attacking personnel. Other anti-personnel weapons included the use of hot pitch, oil, resin, animal fat and other similar compounds. Smoke was used to confuse or drive off attackers. Substances such as quicklime and sulfur could be toxic and blinding.

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Kantubek
Credit: NASA; Julo

Kantubek and Vozrozhdeniye villages on Vozrozhdeniya Island, Aral Sea, Uzbekistan. former secret Sovjet biological warfare laboratory in Kantubek and Vozrozhdeniye support facility drawn on the NASA satellite photo

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Smallpox

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Prion
A prion is an infectious agent that is composed primarily of protein. To date, all such agents that have been discovered propagate by transmitting a mis-folded protein state; the protein itself does not self-replicate and the process is dependent on the presence of the polypeptide in the host organism. The mis-folded form of the prion protein has been implicated in a number of diseases in a variety of mammals, including bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, also known as "mad cow disease") in cattle and Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (CJD) in humans. All known prion diseases affect the structure of the brain or other neural tissue, and all are currently untreatable and are always fatal. In general usage, prion refers to the theoretical unit of infection. In scientific notation, PrPC refers to the endogenous form of prion protein (PrP), which is found in a multitude of tissues, while PrPSc refers to the misfolded form of PrP, that is responsible for the formation of amyloid plaques and neurodegeneration. Prions are hypothesized to infect and propagate by refolding abnormally into a structure which is able to convert normal molecules of the protein into the abnormally structured form. All known prions induce the formation of an amyloid fold, in which the protein polymerises into an aggregate consisting of tightly packed beta sheets. This altered structure is extremely stable and accumulates in infected tissue, causing tissue damage and cell death. This stability means that prions are resistant to denaturation by chemical and physical agents, making disposal and containment of these particles difficult. Proteins showing prion-type behavior are also found in some fungi, which has been useful in helping to understand mammalian prions. Fungal prions, however, do not appear to cause disease in their hosts and may even confer an evolutionary advantage through a form of protein-based inheritance. The word prion is a compound word derived from the initial and final letters of the words proteinaceous and infection.

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Cholera bacteria SEM

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Ricin is made from castor beans
These were no playtime recipes. These are recipes that experts give credence to and experiments show work. They are scientifically viable and potentially deadly. ... Their objective was - in furtherance of their extremist Islamist cause - to commit acts of terrorism in the UK, by use of poisons such as ricin and cyanide, and by use of explosives.

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