Bioterrorism

The environment can also be a conduit for terrorism. Biological elements such as disease-causing bacteria and viruses can become potent weapons when taken out of their natural environment. Shortly after the attack on the WTC, several pieces of mail in and around Florida, Washington, D.C., and New York City tested positive for the biocontaminant anthrax. Anthrax is a bacterium that, in its most potent inhaled form, has a fatality rate of over 90 percent. Over ten thousand people may have been exposed, and five people died of inhalational anthrax before the contaminated mail was quarantined. The FBI and the Postal Service have offered a $2.5 million reward for information leading to those responsible, and medical researchers have been working on a cure. Authorities have not yet determined if the anthrax-contaminated mail is connected to al-Qaeda and the events of September 11, but the combined effect of these two attacks occurring in close proximity served to heighten the perception that America is under siege.

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