Wednesday, February 10, 2010

All is Fair in Love and War...bioterrorism that is

Dr. Oz is a genius! He started out as a regular doctor, then he became Oprah's go-to man for all her weight problems, and now he is a billionaire with his own TV show! I love him, he knows what he is talking about. Anyways, his Tuesday segment was all about bioterrorism and how deadly these pathogens can be. By then end of the show, I was more worried about bioterrorism than I was about regular terrorism. The CDC defines bioterrorism as "...the deliberate release of viruses, bacteria, or other germs (agents) used to cause illness or death in people, animals, or plants." Bioterrorism is not something that has sprung up with the advancement of new technology; it can be dated back to the 14th century. Soldiers would throw the bodies of those who died from the plague, over the walls of their enemies fortresses. The disease was easily transferred from person to person and therefore caused many deaths.

The first bioterrorism agent Dr. Oz explained (and a category A agent according to the CDC) was anthrax. Anthrax is an encapsulated, aerobic, gram-positive, spore-forming, rod-shaped (bacillus) bacterium. The anthrax bacterium is enclosed in a capsule where it is protected from phagocytes which makes it hard to destroy. The gram-positive cell wall of the bacterium also makes it extremely resistant due to the numerous layers of peptidoglycan that make up the cell wall. However, anthrax's most deadly characteristic is its ability to form spores. Dr. Oz held up a regular 5 pound bag of flour, took a handful, and blew it into the air. He said, "This 5 pound bag could wipe out New York City!"
Some symptoms of anthrax include...

If inhaled: flu-like symptoms – fever, aches, fatigue, nonproductive cough, chest discomfort, breathing difficulties, sweating, and blue lips and extremities
If eaten: nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting, fever, abdominal pain, vomiting of blood, and severe diarrhea
If on skin: itching, depressed black scar, redness and swelling

It is scary to think that other countries may use viruses and toxins to fight wars. It is even scarier to think that most countries in the world have the technology to engineer mass quantities of toxins that could easily wipe out an entire civilization. Let's just hope that they don't believe that all is fair in love and war!


  1. I want to watch that it on tivo? I wish Dr. Oz was my doctor

  2. I found it on his website, but I don't know if they would have taken it off by now since it is more than a couple weeks old.
    It was a good episode though!!