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Tiny Amounts Can Kill Thousands
The Invisible Weapons

This article written by EJ GONG Jr is reproduced with
thanks from ABC NEWS. This gives a first-look overview
of recent advances in chemical and biological weapons

Thanks to Saddam Hussein, biological and chemical weapons continue to make headlines. Here’s a look at five of the most insidious ones, which the United Nations says Iraq has been stockpiling. The idea of killing enemies with germs isn’t new. In 1346, the Tartars used crude catapults to launch plague-infested corpses into the Crimean city of Kaffa, in southwest Ukraine. Today, scientists here and abroad tinker with some of the most deadly ingredients known to man. Biological weapons, in particular, are easy and quick to make. A single disease-producing bacterium can divide every 20 minutes. An aspirin bottle of bacteria could yield a huge arsenal in just a week.

Chemical weapons take longer to produce, but kill much faster. A single drop of sarin and VX, for instance, can kill in minutes.

Anthrax

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How it works: The airborne anthrax spores are inhaled and lodge in the lungs. There, they quickly multiply and produce toxins that spread through the body via the bloodstream.
Deadly Amount: One billionth of a gram can kill one person.
Previous Uses: The Japanese experimented with anthrax on the Chinese during World War II.
Symptoms: Flu-like symptoms, high fever and then the body goes into shock.
Delivery: Custom-made missiles, spray tanks attached to low-flying airplanes.
Prevention: Gas mask, vaccine.

Botulinal Toxins

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How it works: The victim inhales the airborne toxins into the lungs. The toxins fill the body with poison. Eventually, complete paralysis and cardiac arrest occur.
Deadly Amount: One billionth of a gram can kill one person.
Previous Uses: No known previous uses on man.
Symptoms: Causes dizziness, sore throat and dry mouth.
Delivery: Custom-made missiles, spray tanks attached to low-flying airplanes.
Prevention: Gas mask, vaccine.

Sarin

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How it works: Sarin is inhaled and paralyzes the nerve that makes the diaphragm expand and contract. Eventually, the victim dies of suffocation.
Deadly Amount: One milligram can kill one person.
Previous Uses: Saddam Hussein is said to have used sarin on the Kurds in his own country in the 1980s. Also, a Japanese cult released sarin in a Tokyo subway in 1995, killing 12 and injuring 5,500.
Symptoms: In low doses, it causes severe headaches and coughing. In higher doses, it causes increased perspiration, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and difficulty in breathing.
Delivery: Artillery shells, bombs, land mines.
Prevention: Gas mask.

Mustard Gas

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How it works: Inhaling the vapours causes painful, long-lasting blisters to form all over the body. It can also cause blindness.
Deadly Amount: 10 milligrams can kill one person.
Previous Uses: Used frequently in World War I by Americans and Germans. Most recently, Iraq used mustard gas against the Iranians in the 1980s.
Symptoms: Itchy skin, watery eyes and burning sensation in lungs.
Delivery: Bombs, artillery shells and land-mines.
Prevention: Gas mask.

VX Nerve Gas

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How it works: Similar to sarin, it disrupts the functioning of nerves that control breathing. The victim dies of suffocation when the diaphragm fails to expand and contract. Unlike any other biological or chemical weapons, VX can kill simply by touching the skin.
Deadly Amount: One milligram can kill a person.
Previous Uses: Never been used before, except on research animals.
Symptoms: Increased salivation, coughing, runny nose, headache and nausea.
Delivery: Artillery shells, bombs and land-mines.
Prevention: Gas masks, skin covered by thick clothing.

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