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Global Disaster Management: Bioterrorism

This research guide is a starting point for research into the management of global disasters. It supports Pitt classes and workshops like - Building Community Resilience to Global Hazards, as well as the Hazard SEES Team members and their research.


US Airman wearing an M-17 nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare mask and hood.  This US Dept of Defense (DOD) photo by Senior Airman Walker, Kadena Air Force Base is in the public domain.

What is Bioterrorism?

A bioterrorism attack is the deliberate release of viruses, bacteria, or other germs (agents) used to cause illness or death in people, animals, or plants. These agents are typically found in nature, but it is possible that they could be changed to increase their ability to cause disease, make them resistant to current medicines, or to increase their ability to be spread into the environment. Biological agents can be spread through the air, through water, or in food. Terrorists may use biological agents because they can be extremely difficult to detect and do not cause illness for several hours to several days. Some bioterrorism agents, like the smallpox virus, can be spread from person to person and some, like anthrax, can not. [From the CDC, Center for Disease Control website]

Information Resources

Biological Weapons Convention



Case Study: 2001 Anthrax Attacks

A letter sent to NBC anchorman Tom Brokaw (above) and to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (below).

 Daschle letter.jpg

The 2001 anthrax attacks in the United States, also known as Amerithrax from its FBI case name, occurred over the course of several weeks beginning on Tuesday, September 18, 2001, one week after the September 11 attacks. Letters containing anthrax spores were mailed to several news media offices and two Democratic US senators, killing five people and infecting 17 others.

Federal Departments & Agencies