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Vibrio cholerae - As Biological Weapons

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Terrorism is defined as use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to indulge fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, social or religious. Bioterrorism is terrorism by intentional release or dissemination of biological agents, mainly bacteria or viruses. Use of biological weapons is attractive from the terrorists’ point of view because of low production costs, major range and easiness of transmission. The first mention of the use of primitive biological weapons date back to the 6th century. Use of plague-infested corpses as offensive means in the 14th century caused a spread of bubonic plague through the whole Europe. The biggest development of biological weapons took place in the interwar period and in the cold war era. Biological weapon trails and research were conducted by super powers such as USSR, UK, USA and Japan. At the beginning of the 20th century a new form of bioterrorism occurred, which put humanity in the face of a terrifying threat. Cholera is a deadly disease that has caused a worldwide phenomenon throughout history. Its imperative weapon, the Vibrio cholerae bacterium, has allowed cholera to seize control and wipe out a huge percentage of the human population. V. cholerae’s toxins are the primary causes of cholera’s lethal symptoms. The bacterium contains toxins that help it accomplish its job of invading the human system and defeating the body’s powerful immune system. With its sibling bacterium Escherichia coli, V. cholerae has become one of the most dominant pathogens in the known world. V. cholerae’s strategies in causing the infamous deadly diarrhea have been widely studied, from the irritation of the intestinal epithelium to the stimulation of capillary leakage, as well as the internal effects of the disease such as the Peyer’s patches on the intestinal walls. Overall, the Vibrio cholera bacterium has made cholera a tough disease to overcome, and because of its deadly virulence factors, cholera has become one of the most frightening diseases a human body could ever encounter. Vibrio cholerae is a Gram-negative, comma-shaped bacterium. Some strains of V. cholerae cause the disease cholera. V. cholerae is facultatively anaerobic and has a flagellum at one cell pole. V. cholerae was first isolated as the cause of cholera by Italian anatomist Filippo Pacini in 1854, but his discovery was not widely known until Robert Koch, working independently 30 years later, publicized the knowledge and the means of fighting the disease. V. cholerae pathogenicity genes code for proteins directly or indirectly involved in the virulence of the bacteria. During infection, V. cholerae secretes cholera toxin, a protein that causes profuse, watery diarrhea. Colonization of the small intestine also requires the toxin coregulated pilus (TCP), a thin, flexible, filamentous appendage on the surface of bacterial cells.


International Letters of Social and Humanistic Sciences (Volume 9)
P. Daniszewski, "Vibrio cholerae - As Biological Weapons", International Letters of Social and Humanistic Sciences, Vol. 9, pp. 65-73, 2013
Online since:
September 2013

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