• A. Mashiatullah Isotope Application Division, Directorate of Technology, PINSTECH, P.O. Nilore, Islamabad, Pakistan
  • R. M. Qureshi Directorate of Coordination, PINSTECH, P.O. Nilore, Islamabad, Pakistan
  • R. M. Qureshi Directorate of Coordination, PINSTECH, P.O. Nilore, Islamabad, Pakistan


Biological agents are unique class of microorganisms which can be used to produce the disease in large populations of humans, animals and plants. If used for hostile purposes, any disease-causing microorganism could be considered a weapon. The use of biological agents is not a new concept and history is replete with examples of biological weapon use. Before the 20th century, biological warfare took on three main forms by deliberate poisoning of food and water with infectious material, use of microorganisms or toxins in some form of weapon system, and use of biologically inoculated fabrics. Four kinds of biological warfare agents are bacteria, viruses, rickettsiae, fungi. These are distinguished by being living organisms, that reproduce within their host victims, who then become contagious with a deadly multiplier effect, bacteria, viruses, or fungi or toxin found in nature can be used to kill or injure people. Biological agents may be used for an isolated assassination, as well as to cause incapacitation or death to thousands. These biological agents represent a dangerous military threat because they are alive, and are therefore unpredictable and uncontrollable once released. The act of bioterrorism can range from a simple hoax to the actual use of biological weapons. Biological agents have the potential to make an environment more dangerous over time. If the environment is contaminated, a long-term threat to the population could be created. This paper discusses common biological agents, their mode of action in living organisms and possible impact on the environment.


C. A. Cole. Scientific American 275 (1996)

C.A. Cole, The eleventh plague – The

politics of biological and chemical warfare

Cole, L.A., W.H. Freeman and Company,

New York (1997).

E. J. Hoogendorn, Bulletin of the Atomic

scientists 53 (1997) 35.

M. Wheelis, "Biological warfare at the 1346

siege of Caffa.", Emerg Infect Dis (Center

for Disease Control), (2002) http://www.cdc.


WHO Health Aspects of Chemical and

Biological Weapons Ist edition World Health

Organization Geneva (1970) 1-29.

Office of Technology Assessment.

Proliferation of Weapons of Mass

Destruction: Assessing the Risks; OTA-ISC559 U.S. Government Printing Office

Washington DC, (1993) 1-111.

L. M. Wein, D. L. Craft and E. H. Kaplan,

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., 100 7 (2003) 4346.

R. Purver, Canadian Security and

Intelligence Service (1995) p. 42.

R. M. Atlas, ASM News 64 (1998) 383.

D. R. Franz, P.B. Jahrling, A. M.

Friedlander, D. J McClain, D. L. Hoover,

W.R. Bryne, J. A. Pavlin, G. W. Christopher

and E. M. Eitzen, J. Am. Med. Assoc. 278,

No. 5 (1997) 399.

D. H. Ellison, Handbook of Chemical and

Biological Warfare Agents, CRC Press LLC

Boca Raton, FL (1999)

G. F. Webb Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 100, No. 8

(2003) 4355.


agents_diseases/background.html - 31k

E. Eitzen, J. Pavlin, T. Cieslak, G.

Christopher, and R. Culpepper Medical

Management of Biological Casualties

Handbook, 3rd ed. Ft. Detrick, MD:U.S.

Army Medical Research Institute of

Infectious Diseases (1998).

A. C. Parker, J. Kirsi, W.H Rose and D. T.

Parker. Counter Proliferation-Biological

Decontamination. Rpt DAAD09-92-D-0004.

Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD:U.S. Army

Test and Evaluation Command (1996).

A. Watson and D. Keir, Epidemiol. Infect.

(1994) 479.

T. V. Inglesby, D.A Henderson and J.G

Bartlett (1999), JAMA 281, No. 18 (1994)

Williams, David. "Anthrax scientist Bruce

Ivins stood to benefit from a panic". Los

Angeles Times. (August 2, 2008).

M. Wheelis Emerg Infect Dis (Center for

Disease Control) (2002).

D. Barenblatt A plague upon Humanity, Edi.

Harper Collns (2004) pp.220-221.

A. Pearson Zoonoses: biology, clinical

practice, and public health control (Soulsby

E. J, Palmer, S. L editors). Oxford

[Oxfordshire]: Oxford University Press

(1998) pp. 276–9.

R.R. Parker, Recent studies of tick-borne

diseases made at the United States Public

Health Service Laboratory at Hamilton,

Montana. In: Proceedings of the Fifth Pacific

Congress (1934) 3367-3374.

D.T. Dennis, T.V. Inglesby, and D. A.

Henderson et.al., JAMA 285, No. 21 (2001)

A. Söstedt, Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci. 1105

(2007) 1.

J. B. Woods. USAMRIID’s Medical

Management of Biological Casualties

Handbook (6th ed.). Fort Detrick, Maryland:

U.S. Army Medical Institute of Infectious

Diseases (2005) pp. 53.

W. R. Byrne and Q fever. In: Medical

Aspects of Chemical and Biological Warfare

Sidell F.R., Takafugi, E.T. and Franz, D.R.

editors). Washington, DC:TMM Publications,

(1997) 523-537.

M.G. Madariaga, K. Rezai, G.M. Trenholme

and R.A. Weinstein. Lancet Infect Dis 3, No.

(2003) 709. PMID 14592601

R.Seshadri, I.T. Paulsen and J.A. Eisen,.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A 100, No. 9

(2003) 5455.

Freeman, B.A. Burrows Textbook of

Microbiology. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA:WB

Saunders Co (1979)

D. J. McClain, Smallpox. In: Medical

Aspects of Chemical and Biological Warfare

(Sidell, F.R., Takafugi, E. T., Franz, D.R.

editors). Washington, DC:TMM publications

(1997) 539-559

H.J. McGeorge, Chemical/Biological Terrorism Threat Handbook. Rpt DAALO3-86-D0001. Aberdeen Proving Ground, Chemical

Research, Development and Engineering

Center (1989).

E. W. Stearn and A.E. Stearn. The Effect of

Smallpox on the Destiny of the Amerindian.

Boston, Mass: Bruce Humphries (1945).

G.W. Christopher, T. J. Cieslak, J. A. Pavlin,

and E.M. Eitzen Jr., JAMA 278, No. 5

(1997) 412.

J. F. Smith, K. Davis, M.K. Hart, G.V.

Ludwig, D.J. McClain, M. D. Parker and W.

D. Pratt, (1997) Viral encephalitides. In:

Medical Aspects of Chemical and Biological

Warfare (Sidell, F.R., Takafugi, E.T., Franz,

D.R. editors). Washington, DC : TMM Publications ; 561-589

Stedman's Medical Dictionary 24th ed.,

(Baltimore, M. D. editor) (1982).

N. J. Mantis, Adv. Drug Deliv. Rev. 57, No. 9

(2005) 1424.

G. Rajagopalan, M. M Sen,. M. Singh, N.S

Murali, K. A. Nath and K. Iijima. Intranasal

exposure to staphylococcal enterotoxin B

elicits an acute systemic inflammatory

response. Shock.25, No. 6 (2006) 647.


D.R. Franz, Defense against toxin

weapons. In: Medical Aspects of Chemical

and Biological Warfare (Sidell, F.R.,

Takafugi, E.T., Franz, D.R. editors).

Washington, DC:TMM Publications, (1997)

C. Montecucco and J. Molgó, Current

Opinion in Pharmacology 5, No. 3 (2005)

BUMED. Biological Warfare Defense

Information Sheet. Botulism. Available:

http://support1.med.navy.mil/ bumed/med02/med-02c/botulism.htm (1996).

M.S. Palmgren, and A.Ciegler, Aflatoxins.

In: Handbook of Natural Toxins. Vol 1 Plant

and Fungal Toxins (Keeler, R.F., Tu, A.T.

editors). New York: Marcel Dekker (1983)


R.A. Zilinskas, Iraq's biological weapons.

The past as future? JAMA 278, No. 5 (1997)




How to Cite

A. Mashiatullah, R. M. Qureshi, and R. M. Qureshi, “A REVIEW OF RESEARCH ON COMMON BIOLOGICAL AGENTS AND THEIR IMPACT ON ENVIRONMENT”, The Nucleus, vol. 46, no. 4, pp. 435–448, Jun. 2020.




Most read articles by the same author(s)

1 2 3 > >>