Description or situation
The following information has been provided with the intent to inform and expose survival minded people to the severity and impacts associated with "Biological" disasters or hazardous events.
Definitions for "Disaster" encompass a great deal of categories and variables. Many disasters are naturally occurring and are cyclic meaning they inevitably happen in accordance with time and are subject to the conditions of a changing Earth. Biological disasters can follow as a result of naturally occurring disastrous events and if left unchecked can result in pandemics effecting large scale populations of humans, animals and crops. Technical advancements have resulted in the increase of potential threats to life here on Earth. We continue to create additional synthetic compounds which have the potential to wipe out entire civilizations. Some bio-hazards have been created with that intent. Bio hazards are being designed to be used as a military weapons in various areas on the planet. The risks to our survival here on Earth continues to increase as we rely on technology to contain the ever growing inventory of synthetic viral compounds. Between the "Naturally occurring" and "Man made" disasters the human race has never been so vulnerable as we are today. With the benefits of technology comes the added potential of human error and mishaps which can result in creating an extinction level catastrophe.
The term and its associated symbol are generally used as a warning, so that if we are potentially exposed to hazardous substances we will know to take appropriate precautions. The bio-hazard symbol was developed in 1966 by Charles Baldwin, an environmental-health engineer working for the Dow Chemical Company on the containment of products. It is used in the labeling of biological materials that carry a significant health risk, including viral samples and spent hypodermic needles. Biological hazards, also known as bio-hazards, refer to biological substances that pose a threat to the health of living organisms, primarily that of humans. This can include medical waste or samples of a microorganism, virus or toxin, (from a biological source), that can affect human health. It can also include substances harmful to animals.
Levels of Bio-hazards
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC) categorizes various diseases and bio-hazards accordingly. Level 1 being the minimum risk and Level 4 being an extreme risk. Anything beyond level 4 can be considered an extinction level event, (ELE). Laboratories and other facilities are categorized as (BSL), Bio-safety Level 1-4 or as P1 through P4 for short (Pathogen or Protection Level). [Source]
Level 1: Bacteria and viruses including Bacillus subtilis, canine hepatitis, Escherichia coli, varicella, (chicken pox), as well as some cell cultures and non-infectious bacteria. At this level precautions against the bio-hazardous materials in question are minimal, most likely involving gloves and some sort of facial protection.
Level 2: Bacteria and viruses that cause only mild disease to humans, or are difficult to contract via aerosol in a lab setting, such as hepatitis A, B, and C, influenza A, Lyme disease, salmonella, mumps, measles, scrapie, dengue fever, HIV. "Routine diagnostic work with clinical specimens can be done safely at Bio-safety Level 2, using Bio-safety Level 2 practices and procedures. Research work (including co-cultivation, virus replication studies, or manipulations involving concentrated virus) can be done in a BSL-2 (P2) facility, using BSL-3 practices and procedures.
Level 3: Bacteria and viruses that can cause severe to fatal disease in humans, but for which vaccines or other treatments exist, such as anthrax, West Nile virus, Venezuelan equine encephalitis, SARS virus, tuberculosis, typhus, Rift Valley fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, yellow fever, and malaria. Among parasites Plasmodium falciparum, which causes Malaria, and Trypanosoma cruzi, which causes trypanosomiasis, also come under this level.
Level 4: Viruses and bacteria that cause severe to fatal disease in humans, and for which vaccines or other treatments are not available, such as Bolivian and Argentine hemorrhagic fevers, Marburg virus, Ebola virus, Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) aka (Corona Virus or CoV) hantaviruses, Lassa fever virus, Crimean–Congo hemorrhagic fever, and other hemorrhagic diseases. Variola virus (smallpox) is an agent that is worked with at BSL-4 despite the existence of a vaccine. When dealing with biological hazards at this level the use of a positive pressure personnel suit, with a segregated air supply, is mandatory. The entrance and exit of a Level Four bio-lab will contain multiple showers, a vacuum room, an ultraviolet light room, autonomous detection system, and other safety precautions designed to destroy all traces of the bio-hazard. Multiple airlocks are employed and are electronically secured to prevent both doors opening at the same time. All air and water service going to and coming from a Bio-safety Level 4 (P4) lab will undergo similar decontamination procedures to eliminate the possibility of an accidental release. [Source].
A biological disaster is a crisis involving biological agents, organisms or toxins that can incapacitate or kill people, livestock and crops. Biological disasters are the devastating effects resulting from an enormous spread of what may not be conducive for healthy growth or continuance of life. A biological disaster can be the result of naturally occurring reactive events or intentionally initiated. Either way, ... the effects can be devastating if severe enough to be classified as a disaster. This is a situation that many people feel can be best avoided with preparation and awareness. Disasters only become disasters when the course of live is effected, influenced or altered in such a way that renders an area uninhabitable. Having a remedy or solution for an outbreak is not enough.
Naturally occurring: Researchers have been studying disasters for more than a century, and for more than forty years disaster research. The studies reflect a common opinion when they argue that all disasters can be seen as being human-made, their reasoning being that human actions before the strike of the hazard can prevent it developing into a disaster. All disasters are hence the result of human failure to introduce appropriate disaster management measures. Hazards are routinely divided into natural or human-made, although complex disasters, where there is no single root cause, are more common in developing countries. A specific disaster may spawn a secondary disaster that increases the impact. A classic example is an earthquake that causes a tsunami, resulting in coastal flooding. The results can often produce a variety of opportunities for viruses and diseases to manifest into hazardous situations. If this occurs in areas inhabited or even visited by humans the effects become known soon after sickness and death start to happen. Humans continue to advance in our understanding of the potentials for naturally occurring disasters to create diseases and such so we look for it in susceptible areas of the planet. With that being said it is reasonable to assume that these events can be expected and therefore we have developed appropriate measures in responding efficiently. Intentionally initiated biological events are a different matter.
Epidemics & Pandemics
Intentionally occurring: The use of bio-hazardous materials as a weapon against opposing forces or as an act of terrorism with the intent to cause a disastrous event. A biological attack is the deliberate release of germs or other biological substances that can make people very sick. The three basic groups of biological agents that would likely be used as weapons are bacteria, viruses and toxins. Most biological agents are difficult to grow and maintain. Many break down quickly when exposed to sunlight and other environmental factors, while others, such as anthrax spores, are very long lived. It is typically those that are easy to produce, long lived and simple to deliver that are often favored as weapons grade material. Biological agents can be dispersed by spraying them into the air, infecting animals that carry the disease to humans and by contaminating food and water supplies.
Delivery methods include:
Aerosols - biological agents are dispersed into the air, forming a fine mist that may drift for miles. Inhaling the agent may cause disease in people or animals.
Animals - some diseases are spread by insects and animals, such as fleas, mice, flies, mosquitoes and livestock.
Food and water contamination - some pathogenic organisms and toxins may persist in food and water supplies. Most microbes can be killed, and toxins deactivated, by cooking food and boiling water. Most microbes are killed by boiling water for one minute, but some require longer. Follow official instructions.
Person-to-person - spread of a few infectious agents is also possible. Humans have been the source of infection for smallpox, plague, and the Lassa viruses.
Specific information on biological agents is available through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC).
What are the causes?
In general, biological disasters materialize when some form of malignant agent (typically bacteria or virus) enters a population that is vulnerable to it's actions and which lives in an environment that is conducive to the agent's propagation. Not all sources of biological disasters are known, and there is no clear consensus on precisely when an outbreak becomes an epidemic and when and epidemic becomes a disaster. [Source].
What are the effects?
All life forms be it plants, animals or humans are susceptible to being effected by such an event. The effects of a biological event or disaster are contingent on the methods of transportation and the speed of migration. The speed in which a viral agent travels through a region is a factor in determining the severity as well as the location referred to as "ground zero". Naturally occurring events are often slower in movement and are typically inherent to beginning in rural areas. Intentional events known to be associated with military or terrorist actions typically move much quicker and has a target area encompassing heavier populated regions with the aim of incurring large casualties. Environmental conditions such as with heavy weather can also have an effect on spreading viruses and agents. This can turn from an outbreak into a disaster very fast. The effects are related to several levels of physical suffering, sickness and death. [Additional source].
Biological disasters in history:
Some of the most notable biological disasters were caused by the movement of people to and from places where they never ventured before. One of the best examples of this was the plague (or Black Death) during the middle ages. The plague most likely originated in western Asia, and was carried by Asian brown rats aboard a cargo ship that traveled between Italy and the eastern Black Sea. Once it reached Europe it encountered a lot more people (potential victims) than it did in the sparsely populated Black Sea area, and that new population was not resistant to the disease.
AIDS (HIV) likely was spread in a rather similar way. In deep Africa the virus might have lived among apes and other animals but the human population was pretty sparse. With merchants and tourists traveling to and from deep Africa, however, someone picked up the virus unknowingly and brought it back with him. Once it was introduced into the Western world, it encountered very little resistance. History: Major events across the globe.
⇒ Find "solutions to biological Event" ⇐
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biological_hazard → Definition of Biological hazard
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disaster → Definition of disaster
http://www.gfdrr.org/sites/gfdrr.org/files/Disaster_Types_and-Impacts.pdf → Disaster types and impacts
http://www.ready.gov/biological-threats → Biological threats