POTENTIAL FOR HUMAN ILLNESS FROM ANIMAL TRANSMISSION OR FOOD-BORNE PATHOGENS
DAVID M. HARTLEY
Department of Radiology, Georgetown University School of Medicine, Washington, DC
Humans become infected with pathogens via aerosol, oral, and percutaneous pathways. Infection may produce a spectrum of outcomes, ranging from asymptomatic and self-limited disease, to long-term sequelae, to death. During the Cold War, several nations exploited these facts to develop biological weapons for use against humans. Designed to achieve specific strategic or tactical military objectives efficiently, weapons were based on a limited number of agents and designed to be delivered primarily as small particle aerosols [1, 2]. In contrast, bioterrorists may employ a multiplicity of microbial agents, delivered via diverse pathways, against civilian populations. The diversity of entryway and a spectrum of outcomes makes bioterrorism a difficult problem to characterize and defend against.
In this article we focus on diseases of humans associated with animals or food and foodstuffs, which have demonstrated potential to disrupt populations and societies. Human illness could result from a bioterrorist infecting animal species (e.g. livestock, wildlife, and insect vectors) or food and foodstuffs with biological agents aimed at human populations, or as “collateral damage” in a biological attack aimed at domestic livestock. Volumes have been written on zoonotic and food-borne illnesses; this is a ...