Bioterrorism agents are pathogenic organisms or biological toxins that are used by terrorists for the mass killing of either plants, animals, or humans. Bioterrorism agents have gained popularity for many reasons, including their ability to be quickly disseminated and kill thousands within a short time, among others.
Bioterrorism agents, according to the CDC and NIH in conjunction with Homeland security, are in three categories- categories A, B, and C. Category A includes those biological toxins and pathogenic microorganisms that have the highest mortality and morbidity rates. Besides, organisms in class A are quickly disseminated. Therefore, category A organisms pose an immediate risk to national security.
Category organisms and biological toxins include anthrax, which was used in the 2001 attack in the US as well as botulism and ebola. Botulism is one biological weapon that is a threat to many. The botulinum toxin, which causes botulism, is produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum. Botulinum toxins are incredibly potent and lethal; some of the toxins are relatively easy to create, and transport. People with botulism require prolonged intensive hospital care.
Clostridium botulinum is a Gram-positive bacteria that appear as rods under the microscope. Also, Clostridium botulinum is anaerobic and shows motility as well as form spores to survive in harsh environmental conditions. The size of Clostridium botulinum is about 5 µm × 1.0 µm (micrometer).
Clostridium botulinum has no particular requirement and can grow in the essential nutrient agar media. Nonetheless, it can also grow in blood agar and egg yolk agar media. C. botulinum shows the same cultural characteristics in each media that it grows with a slight difference from each other. They, however, cause hemolysis when grown on blood agar.
If a biological attack was to happen today, there is a possibility that it will be Bacillus anthracis, which produces the anthrax toxin. Bacillus anthracis is a common but lethal biological weapon, for it is readily available in the environment and can quickly be produced in the laboratory. The dissemination of Bacillus anthracis is also quiet and can be modified to any form.
Bacillus anthracis is a large, non-motile, Gram-positive bacteria that appear as rods under the microscope. This bacteria measures approximately 3-10 micrometers in size. When grown in the laboratory, Bacillus anthracis achieves maximum growth at a temperature of between 35-37 0C, whereas sporulation occurs at an optimum temperature of 25 0C. B. athracis can grow well in various conventional laboratory media such as nutrient agar and blood agar. Be it as it may, it does not cause hemolysis when grown on blood agar. Typically, it grows with an irregular shape with a medusa head.