Ricin is a lethal biological warfare agent. It is a deadly poison that is made from the waste left over from processing castor beans (castor bean poison ).
More specifically, it is made from the seeds found within the castor beans.
Ricin can be produced in a powder, pellet or liquid form, but a terrorist attack utilizing ricin would most likely involve an airborne sprayer-type delivery system so that the poison is inhaled.
If inhaled, ricin prevents cells from producing proteins and ultimately destroys the lung tissues. This causes difficulty breathing, coughing, fever, chest tightness, and leads to respiratory failure.
Injection of ricin has been utilized in assassinations, such as the murder of Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov on September 11, 1978.
He was standing at a crowded bus stop in London when an unknown assassin in the crowd stabbed him in the leg with an umbrella which had been adapted to inject a poison ricin pellet under his skin.
He developed a high fever that evening, and held on for three miserable days before dying. Markov had been openly critical of the Bulgarian government on radio on several occasions, and they finally enlisted the help of the Russian KGB to eliminate the problem.
There is no treatment, drug, or antitoxin for ricin poisoning.
Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a severe, often-fatal disease caused by infection with Ebola virus, one of the most virulent viruses known.
It is a total nightmare because of the horrible, frightening effect it has on its victims.
Ebola is moderately infectious, but extremely lethal. It was named after a river in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire) in Africa, where it was first recognized in 1976.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, “the virus is one of two members of a family of RNA viruses called the Filoviridae.
The Ebola virus is transmitted by direct contact with the blood and/or secretions of an infected person. Thus, the virus is often spread through families and friends because they come in close contact with such secretions when caring for infected persons.
People can also be exposed to Ebola virus through contact with objects, such as needles, that have been contaminated with infected secretions.
The incubation period for Ebola ranges from 2 to 21 days. The onset of illness is abrupt and is characterized by fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, sore throat, and weakness, followed by diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain. A rash, red eyes, hiccups and internal and external bleeding may be seen in some patients.
As the virus spreads to the major organs, intense systemic pain begins as the body tissue begins to basically liquefy. The blood vessels rupture and hemorrhage.
Copious bleeding internally and from the eyes, ears, nose, mouth and other openings is followed by agonizing death from systemic shock and dropping blood pressure.
Ebola incites instant and total panic wherever it appears because of the horrible and brutal death that results.
This makes it of great interest to biochemical terrorists. There is no standard treatment for Ebola infection, only supportive hospital therapy to replace fluids. Some people do survive an Ebola infection, and it is not known why.
Ebola is fatal in 50-90% of cases.
Ebola is not as easy to transmit as smallpox.
Smallpox is caused by the virus Variola major, which is very contagious and very deadly. When the victim coughs or sneezes, the virus spreads to people in close proximity as they breath the airborne virus.
Smallpox is also spread by direct contact with infected bodily fluids or contaminated objects such as bedding or clothing.
The virus can survive for months in infected bedding, clothing, or even dust infected with smallpox pustules.
Tragically, Native American Indians were killed by the thousands during the 1800’s when settlers intentionally gave them smallpox-infected blankets.
Smallpox symptoms begin 10-14 days after exposure and initially consist of fever followed by a rash several days later.
The Variola virus replicates first in the lymph nodes, and later in the spleen and liver.
Before the Variola virus was eliminated (outside of labs) in 1977, it killed over 500 million people during the 20th century.
Two facilities, one in the US and one in the former Soviet Union, are supposedly the only labs to store the Variola major virus, ostensibly in case it was needed for a vaccine.
It is now known that the former Soviet Union did research to weaponize Variola major, combining it with the Ebola virus and equine encephalomyelitis to make even more potent bioweapons.
It is also well-known that the security of such weapons in the former Soviet Union is now in question.
Germ warfare scientists, possibly for hire, are also streaming out of Iraq since the Persian Gulf War, and out of South Africa since apartheid collapsed.
Since it has been eradicated, at least in nature, any cases of smallpox that appear will certainly be due to some form of attack. There is no treatment for smallpox, only vaccination.
Historically, smallpox has a fatality rate of 30%.