Agent Identification - Biological

Biological agents include bacteria, viruses, fungi and toxins. Bacteria and viruses are living organisms and some may cause epidemics such as the ongoing concerns for Pandemic Influenza and Avian Influenza. Although these organisms may, in some cases, be acquired they are very difficult to weaponize. They would likely be used in the aerosol or powder form and can be contagious. Small quantities may cause devastating effects depending on the organism and the dose or route received.

These agents may not be easily detected initially particularly due to some common illness vague symptoms such as flu-like symptoms and also because of incubation periods which may span from days to weeks. Patients may present initially slowly and not cause undue concern until multiple patients with common and un-seasonal symptoms present to healthcare facilities, including emergency departments.

Severity of symptoms may be dependent on routes of absorption of biological agents including inhalation which may produce the worst symptoms followed by ingestion, dermal absorption, injection and contact with an infected person.

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