10 Scariest Biological Weapons
Aren’t all bio-weapons scary? Definitely. But these 10 are particularly troublesome once they’re released from labs and unleashed on an unsuspecting public.
Anthrax Spores was first tested as a biological warfare agent by Unit 731 of the Japanese Kwantung Army in Manchuria during the 1930s; some of this testing involved intentional infection of prisoners of war, thousands of whom died. Anthrax, designated at the time as Agent N, was also investigated by the Allies in the 1940s.
The British considered using smallpox as a biological warfare agent at the Siege of Fort Pitt during the French and Indian Wars (1754–63) against France and its Native American allies. Although it is not clear whether the actual use of smallpox had official sanction. It has also been alleged that smallpox was used as a weapon during the American Revolutionary War (1775–83).
North Korea is suspected of producing TB. The world’s second biggest infectious killer. Tuberculosis may infect any part of the body, but most commonly occurs in the lungs (known as pulmonary tuberculosis). Extrapulmonary TB occurs when tuberculosis develops outside of the lungs, although extrapulmonary TB may coexist with pulmonary TB as well.
Plague was used during the Second Sino-Japanese War as a bacteriological weapon by the Imperial Japanese Army. These weapons were provided by Shirō Ishii’s units and used in experiments on humans before being used on the field. For example, in 1940, the Imperial Japanese Army Air Service bombed Ningbo with fleas carrying the bubonic plague.
As a biological weapons agent, the Ebola virus is feared for its high case-fatality rate. Because of its rarity, the disease may not be diagnosed corrected at the onset of an outbreak. Reports suggested that the Ebola virus was researched and weaponized by the former Soviet Union’s biological weapons program Biopreparat. Dr. Ken Alibek, former the First Deputy Director of Biopreparat, speculated that the Russians had aerosolized the Ebola virus for dissemination as a biological weapon. The Japanese terrorist group Aum Shinrikyo reportedly sent members to Zaire during an outbreak to harvest the virus.
During World War II, the Japanese biological weapons program known as Unit 731 located in Pingfan Manchuria (24 kilometers south of Harbin) experimented with Vibrio cholera as a weapons agent. It was reported that the Japanese dropped cholera and typhus cultures into more than 1,000 Chinese wells and reportedly caused 10,000 cases in 1941. However, an estimated 1,700 of the deaths were Japanese soldiers, a testimony to the difficulty of protecting one’s own troops from biological agents and controlling infections.
Botulinum toxin is one of the deadliest toxins known, and is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. Botulism causes death by respiratory failure and paralysis. Furthermore, the toxin is readily available worldwide due to its cosmetic applications in injections.
Being able to destroy an entire city in less than a second with the push of a button is one way to measure destructive power, but being able to selectively and slowly decimate a population with disease and infection is so unconventionally brutal that it has to top the list. That’s Chimera Viruses!
While advanced nuclear and bombs are scary and powerful, if you’re going for painful slow, mentally devastating destruction sometimes launching the diseased riddled bodies of prisoners that you’ve executed back over the city walls is the most sadistic way to go about decimating a population.
Tularemia (Rabbit Fever)
Tularemia doesn’t transfer between human hosts and can be easily treated with antibiotics or prevented with a vaccine. It does, however, spread very rapidly between animal hosts and humans or when used in aerosol form. It is this factor, not its mortality rate, that earned F. tularensis a Category A biological weapon ranking. It is especially virile in aerosol form. Due to these factors, the United States, Britain, Canada and the Soviet Union all worked to create weaponized tularemia after the close of World War II.