Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Most Dangerous Biological Weapons

Difficulty: 0

Bioweapons are biological agentssuch as viruses, bacteria, and fungiused offensively

against enemy combatants or civilian populations.

These weapons are invisible, uncontrollable, and (if youre not vaccinated or dont

have immediate treatment) unstoppable.

On todays episode of The Infographics Show, were talking about some of the worlds

most dangerous bioweaponswere going to tell you what they are, how they work,

and whatll happen if theyre ever used on you.

Grab your gas mask and hazmat suit, were jumping in.

Botulinum Toxin Also known informally asBotox”, Botulinum

Toxin is an extremely dangerous neurotoxic protein derived from the bacterium Clostridium

botulinum in low-oxygen conditions.

Botulinum has been used as a medical treatment for conditions such asspasticiyin

the past, and is used to this day as a cosmetic treatment for wrinkles.

However, if used in combat, Botulinum Toxin can be a horrifically potent biological weapon

seen by some as one of the most deadly substances known to man.

What happens if Botulinum Toxin is weaponised and used against you?

Being a neurotoxin, Botulinum Toxin blocks nerve signals from the brain, causing severe

respiratory and muscle paralysis.

Around twelve hours after contracting botulism, youre likely to experience fatigue, dizziness,

vertigo, and blurred vision.

Then, youll have difficulty swallowing, and breathing.

After that comes the severe vomiting, constipation, and diarrhoea.

Soon enough, youll start to experience physical weakness, severe pain, and paralysis

across the body.

Its a slow and painful death, if not diagnosed and treated early.

Combatants could poison food sources with Botulinum Toxin, or utilise it in its airborne

form, wherein the time between contraction and displaying symptoms can take days.

Meaning, you could be doomed before you even know it.

Aflatoxin Aflatoxins are a type of deadly toxin derived

from naturally-occurring fungi across the globe.

Even outside of their potential application as a bioweapon, aflatoxins already create

huge problems for people and livestock everywheredestroying up to 25% of the worlds

crop supply every year.

Aflatoxins are commonly present in fermenting nuts and grains, and exposure to humans occurs

most commonly through this vector.

If enemy combatants got their hands on a significant supply of aflatoxin, any attacks using it

could cause horrific damage to their opponents.

In addition to killing or contaminating a nations crops, low-level exposure to aflatoxins

such as Aspergillus, Parasiticus, and Flavusover a period of time can increase

the likelihood of people developing cancer in all their major organ systems.

Longitudinal exposure can also result in birth defects and severely weakened immune systems.

However, acute poisoningknown as aflatoxicosison the short term can lead to a painful

death by liver failure.

Its variance in symptoms also makes it difficult to detect before its too late.

Even low-level aflatoxin exposure after a long period of time can damage a population

for years or even decades to come.

Bunyavirus Bunyaviruses are a member of the Bunyaviridae

viral family, transmitted largely by rodents like rats and small arthropods like mosquitos

and flies, allowing them to thrive in hot and unhygienic conditions like dense, urban


Bunyavirus has the ability to decimate both human populations and livestock.

If used by a combatant, Bunyavirus could attack a populations food supply while also inducing

dangerous sickness in its citizens.

Most commonly, infection with Bunyavirus leads to the victim experiencing a horrifying condition

known as severe viral haemorrhagic fever.

One of the most common varieties of Bunyavirus is the Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (Or


Its found largely in Eastern Europe, but also occurs across the globe in places like

Central Asia and the Congo.

The symptoms of the disease at first appear mildsuch as headaches, stomach ache,

fever, joint pain, and vomiting.

However, they become more disturbing over time.

Red eyes, severe bruising, nosebleeds, and increasingly violent haemorrhaging.

If not properly treated, Bunyaviruses like the Crimean-Congo Hemorrahgic Fever can have

as high as a 50% mortality rate.

Your chances of survival are literally like flipping a coin.

Marburg Virus Marburg Virus, also known as Marburg Virus

Disease and Marburg Hemorrhagic Fever, is one of the two members of the Filovirus family

the other being the infamous Ebola Virus.

Much like the Bunyaviruses, Marburg Virus can cause the onset of severe hemorrhagic


While it can and has infected human victims, Marburg Virus is largely considered an animal-borne

or Zoonoticdisease.

Its most common vectors are rodents and cave bats, which are often reservoirs for this

nasty virus.

Symptomatically, its extremely similar to the Bunyaviruses.

Initially causing simple and seemingly-innocent symptoms like headaches and fevers.

A few days after contraction, the victim is likely to experience nausea, abdominal pains,

cramping, vomiting, and diarrhoea.

However, over the course of about a week, the symptoms worsen and become extremely debilitating.

The severe hemorrhagic fever finally sets in, followed by bruising and bleeding from

the orifices.

This blood, by the way, is infectious and can further spread the virus.

If a combatant got their hands on these viral samples, itd be bad news for anyone opposing


Rinderpest Thankfully for humans in the audience, Rinderpest

isnt an infection you can catch.

However, in 2018, studies showed that the average American consumes around 220 pounds/100

kilograms of red meat and poultry every year.

The grand majority of this meat is domestic beef.

Thats why Rinderpest has the potential to be such an effective bioweapon, because

its an extremely contagious and deadly disease that attacks cattle.

Considering how vital beef production is to the economy and food supply of the United

States, an attack of the thought-to-be-extinct Rinderpest would be devastating.

Cattle infected with the Rinderpest virus suffer from a fever, followed by severe gastrointestinal

discomfort that manifests in ulcers and diarrhoea.

The cow will also release an infectious discharge from its nose and mouth that risks infecting

other nearby cattle by contaminating communal water sources.

The virus also causes serious damage to the upper digestive and respiratory tract, followed

by dehydration, and then death.

The Rinderpest virus is a perfect example of the variety of potential bioweapons.

A direct offense against human targets isnt the only way to cause major infrastructural

damage to an enemy.

Yersinia Pestis (Plague) Yersinia Pestis is a bacterium that causes

perhaps the most terrifying and iconic infectious disease of all time: The Plague.

Spread largely through the Oriental Rat Flea, and other small arthropods, the Yersinia Pestis

is a highly infectious disease.

The two different varieties of plague are bubonic (known for killing most of Europe

in the fourteenth century) and pneumonic.

The incubation period for this disease is a single day to a whole week, after which,

you begin to experience some truly nightmarish symptoms.

In the bubonic plague, the lymph nodes in the armpit inflame and inflate, creating large,

painfulbuboesthat later fill with pus and develop agonizing open sores.

In even more severe cases, the disease spreads to the lungs, causing the pneumonic plague.

This version of the plague is significantly more infectious than the bubonic plague, and

typically can only be successfully treated if diagnosed within the twenty-four-hour incubation


Otherwise, a painful death is pretty much assured.

Combatants capable of infecting people with a hardy strain of Yersinia Pestis would truly

be a force to be reckoned with.

Ebola Virus The other member of the Filovirus family,

Zaire Ebolavirusknown colloquially as Ebolais an incredibly dangerous and infectious

virus from Sub-Saharan Africa.

Originating in animals such as apes and small primates, Ebola spreads from human to human

through infected bodily fluids like blood, saliva, and faeces.

The virus has no cure, and can only be treated symptomatically until it leaves the system.

This is a gruelling process, and if the medical professionals treating you arent properly

protected, their risk of infection is extremely high.

Traces of the virus can also linger on objects for significantly longer than many other viruses,

The symptoms of this virus are just as intimidating as its biological resilience.

These symptoms are divided intodryandwetsymptoms, progressing from one

to the other as the disease worsens.

Primary dry symptoms include fatigue, muscle pain, and a high fever.

Dangerously, at this stage, its often confused with influenza.

The wet symptoms are considerably more dangerous, and harder to treatdiarrhoea, vomiting,

and severe haemorrhaging.

In some cases, its been known to have as high as a 90% mortality rate.

Meaning, if you contract Ebola, the odds are extremely against you.

If combatants utilised Ebola in a densely-populated area, the results would likely be devastating.

Francisella tularensis (Tularemia) Francisella tularensis is a durable aerobic

bacterium that causes the disease Tularemia.

Typically, like the plague, the vector for this diseases transmission is a small arthropod

such as a mosquito or fleadrinking the blood of an infected animal and then passing

it on to a human victim.

However, Pneumonic Tularemiathe lung-borne variant of the diseaseis a viable bioweapon

because it can be transmitted through the air and is extremely infectious.

Aerosol-transmitted Tularemia is considered one of the greatest biowarfare threats of

the modern world.

The symptoms of Tularemia also vary massively depending on the particular bacterial strain

the victim has been infected withwith symptoms often being dependent on the means

of transmission.

For example, with ulceroglandular tularemia, a large ulcer will develop at the site of

infection and the lymph nodes will become infected and swollen.

Oropharyngeal tularemia occurs when the infection happens after consuming infected food or drink,

and results in swelling and ulcers in the throat.

But, the aforementioned Pneumonic strain results in severe respiratory issues, eventually resulting

in death.

Hopefully nobody gets their hands on a canister of aerosol Pneumonic tularemia any time soon.

Variola Major (Smallpox) Now, were getting into the bioweapon big


According to the Center for Health Security, Variola Majorthe virus behind Smallpox

is an almost perfect bioweapon.

It gives the following terrifying reasons: The virus can spread between people.

There is no official treatment for Smallpox.

The fatality rate for those infected is extremely high.

Countries across the world no longer vaccinate for Variola Major, because its thought

to be practically extinct in the developed world.

The virus is stable in aerosol form, meaning its easy to distribute.

And the infectious dose is small, even by viral standards.

This cocktail of traits makes Variola Major an ideal viral bioweapon.

The actual symptomatic experience of Smallpox is as terrifying as its capacity for biowarfare.

The early stages involve high fever, muscle aches, and vomiting.

This sickness often leaves the victim bedridden.

During the early stages of the rash that follows, the victim is at their most infectious.

Red bumps appear in the mouth, and rashes start breaking out across the skin.

These rashes become larger, pustular, and highly infectious scabs that remain over the

next four weeks, if the victim has survived.

Sadly, most victims dont make it that far.

Bacillus Anthracis (Anthrax) Saving the most infamous biological weapon

for last, the Bacillus Anthracis bacterium, and its resulting disease: Anthrax.

Anthrax is a disease more synonymous with biological warfare than being a naturally

occurring result of bacteria.

Thats because, outside of the context of biological warfare, anthrax is an extremely

rare disease.

And yet, its consistently been a part of several major countriesbiological warfare


Part of the appeal of Anthrax is how incredibly hardy its spores arecapable of surviving

decades in almost any environment with no water or nutrients.

Bacillus Anthracis is about as resilient as a bioweapon can get, but thats not where

its merits as a bioweapon end.

According to the Center for Health Security, there are numerous factors that make Anthrax

one of the most desirable tools of biowarfare.

Its possible to mass-produce in its highly infectious aerosol form, inhalational anthrax

has an overwhelmingly high mortality rate, and strains of the disease have been antibiotic-resistant

in the past.

If youre unlucky enough to be the victim of an inhalation anthrax attack, youre

likely to experience an intense fever, swelling of the throat and abdomen, nausea, stomach

pain, fainting, and more.

While there are treatments for anthrax, you better hope you can get to a hospital quickly

and get a proper diagnosis, or you probably wont live to tell the tale.

Which of these do you think is the scariest bioweapon?

Let us know in the comments below.

And for more infectiously good videos about weaponry, why not check outWeapons So

Terrible They Had To Be Banned From War.”

In the meantime, stay healthy.

Well see you on the next episode of The Infographics Show!

The Description of Most Dangerous Biological Weapons