Stanley John Whidden - Understanding chemical and bio-terrorism

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Stanley John Whidden is a graduate of the US Army War College, US Navy War College, Industrial College of the Armed forces and has completed four fellowships with NIH,NASA, USACHPPM.

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Understanding chemical and bio-terrorism Stanley John Whidden

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Who is Stanley John Whidden ? Col. Stanley John Whidden is an U.S. Army physician and scientist, recognized expert in chemical and bio-terrorism risk analysis and risk reduction. With 38-years as an enlisted soldier and officer, he served in a variety of senior staff and commanding positions. Stanley John Whidden has a bachelor’s degree in physiology in 1970 and master’s in chemistry in 1973 at Southeastern, also earned a doctorate in Physiology at Auburn University and in medicine from the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juarez in Mexico.

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What are chemical weapons? Chemical weapons are composed of any chemical toxin contained in a delivery system that can cause death or any kind of injury through its chemical action. The most known agents are: chlorine and phosgene (known as choking agents), mustard and lewisite (known as blister agents), hydrogen cyanide (known as blood agent) and sarin , soman and VX (known as nerve agents). They are also used as basic materials in many industries, and are only considered as a weapon when in large quantities.

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What is the Chemical Weapons Convention? The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) is an agreement made between various countries to end with chemical weapons. Items or products constructed with the intended to use in direct connection with a chemical agent is considered a weapon by the CWC. The agreement prohibit the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention, transfer or use of chemical weapons. The convention also define already made weapons in two categories: the ones made before 1925 and the ones constructed between 1925 and 1946, both should be destroyed and discarded as chemical waste.

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What are biological weapons? Biological weapons are microorganisms or natural toxins that can cause diseases in human beings, animals or plants, being delivered by bombs or missiles but also through the water supply, insects and many other ways. Also known as germ warfare, are considered the deadliest weapons ever produced, since germs don’t have barriers, and it can be spread so quickly that can cause a global impact.

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What is the Biological Weapons Convention? The Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) is almost the same as the CWC, but for biological weapons. Both understand the use of toxins created by living organisms as a weapon. Members of the BWC are prohibited from using, developing, testing, producing, stockpiling, or deploying any biological weapon. The research is hard to control, since the study for cures and the improvement of treatments depend on it. Members and non-members continued to research and produce them, especially because their production is cheaper than the nuclear ones.

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Chemical and bio terrorism Chemical and bio terrorism is the release of chemical toxins, viruses, bacteria, toxins or other harmful agents used to cause illness, injuries or death of people, animals, or plants in a deliberate way. Between both, bioterrorism is more effective for its easy and cheap ways to obtain the agents. Most chemical agents show an immediate effect or take a few hours to appear. In biological agents the effects will show after a few days. Examples: the botulinum toxin symptoms occur in less than a day, but anthrax or plague can take from 2 to 5 days for any symptoms to appear.

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How to act in a chemical attack? In a chemical attack, as a lot of the agents are heavier than the air, the procedure is to leave the area and go upwind, or to the sides of the wind stream. Protect your nose and mouth and use soap and water to clean up, the toxins will only work if the chemicals are on you. Most toxins will break when exposed to the sun, water, or winds.

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How to act in a biological attack? In a biological attack keeping your house clean and garbage can with a tight lid on it, the basic of personal hygiene and sanitation are the best way to prevent yourself of any agent, so wash your hands often with water and soap, or water and bleach, if water is not available, you can use talcum powder or flour to do the decontamination of liquid agents. Also, don’t share drinks and food and don't have standing water. Try to reduce the possibility of absorbing an agent through the skin. A vaccine can take months or years to develop, produce and distribute on a large scale.

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Last tips Always stay informed with the latest news from official sources like, World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and other governmental and non-governmental organizations in case of crisis. In addition, stay home and keep children away from school in case of any attack. It’s a normal and efficient way to avoid exposure, being you the infected one or not. Make sure you have an adequate supply of essential medications, and to consult your doctor if you have any symptoms, remember that the effectiveness of any antiviral medications decreases with the illness progress. And always be alert to the presence of any chemical or biological agent. Some of the indicators of an attack can be very obvious like, dead or dying animals, if unusual in the area, drops of oily film on surfaces, victims with any weird symptoms and unusual vapors, liquid sprays and smells.

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Thank You Stanley John Whidden

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