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Article
August 4, 1989

Medicine in Defense Against Biological Warfare

Author Affiliations

From the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Fort Detrick, Frederick, Md.

From the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Fort Detrick, Frederick, Md.

JAMA. 1989;262(5):677-679. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03430050093034
Abstract

IT IS fitting in this issue of The Journal that we turn our attention to another means of mass destruction—biological warfare. This method of warfare, first used in the sixth century BC,1 is widely available, easily obtained, silent, and invisible. Whether it be a fraction of a microgram of lethal toxin inhaled by one person or a drifting cloud that can kill or incapacitate tens of thousands, the potential threat of biological warfare is clear. In this commentary, we explain why research in medical defenses against this threat is needed as we answer yes to Orient's2 question, "Should medical defenses against biological warfare be researched?"

We define biological warfare as the use of microorganisms or toxins derived from living organisms to produce death or disease in humans, animals, or plants. This definition is compatible with the National Security Decisions signed in 1969 and 1970, in which the United

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