For the last several months the media has been dominated by news of the progression of ISIS and the outbreak of Ebola. These two, separate issues evoke an immense fear on their own- imagine them combined.
Just last month, a Tunisian ISIS terrorist was discovered researching bio-warfare. Although the intention of his research was focused on the bubonic plague, this brings attention to the reality of Biological weapons. According to Israeli National News, earlier this week a military expert stated ISIS could be planning to use biological warfare by introducing the Ebola virus into the camps of its enemies.
While this Hemorrhagic Fever is one of the most virulent viral diseases known to humankind, I question the reality of its use as an efficient biological weapons agent.
According to Captain Al Shimkus, a Professor of National Security Affairs at the U.S. Naval War College, the spread of the virus would be simple. With a substantial part of West Africa in an open epidemic, Shimkus believes it would be easy for a group like ISIS to obtain Ebola. Using a human as a carrier, the virus could be distributed simply through interaction. Shimkus suggests once a member of the terrorist organization is infected they could introduce the virus to the enemy.
The World Health Organization (WHO) states Ebola has an incubation period of 2-21 days. This means there is a possibility of the virus going undetected if a human carrier were to enter or leave a country. While there is a possibility of mobilizing this virus, how realistic is the spread?
Unlike many diseases, there is no evidence from previous epidemics or laboratory experiments that suggests Ebola has the ability to be spread through airborne particles among Humans. According to the WHO Ebola spreads through human-to-human transmission via direct contact with the blood, secretions, organs, or other bodily fluids of infected people, and with surfaces and materials contaminated with these fluids. Without the ability to spread via air, how likely would an outbreak occur through bioterrorism?
The fear of Ebola is understandable. The WHO states the fatality rate of Ebola is 50% and can easily rise to 90% in countries without sufficient medical care. While the fatality rate is high, the contraction is unlikely.
What are your thoughts on the use of bio-warfare in today’s society? Do you believe it is something we should be thinking about or fear?