Status Brief

Developmental Milestones/Developments to Date:

Current Assessment/State of the Field:




Arnon, Stephen, S., “Botulinum Toxin as a Biological Weapon: Medical and Public Health ManagementJAMA, Feb. 28, 2001, vol. 285, no. 8.

  1. consensus statement.
  2. botulinum: most poisonous toxin known, history of threat.
  3. see also 3 errors noted in JAMA april 25, 2001, v. 285, no. 16, pg. 2081.



Hsu, Spencer, “Modest Gains Against Ever-Present Bioterrorism Threat; An Attack Could Be Hard To Predict With Current Tools,The Washington Post, A Section, Pg. A10, Aug 3, 2008.

  1. “The result: modest gains, at best, toward preventing another attack similar to the one in 2001, in which anthrax bacteria killed five people and sickened 17.”
  2. “‘The potential for something to happen is much greater now than it was in 2001, simply because of developments of technology and education.’”
  3. “The government has not developed a general-use anthrax vaccine.  A new generation of sensors that would sniff out threats more quickly has been delayed.  A coordinated plan to respond to a widespread outbreak still doesn’t exist.  And the rapid increase in the number of researchers registered to work with biological agents, now 15,000 people, has come without enough oversight.”
  4. “A significant bright spot…is the dramatic improvement in government preparations to respond to threats such as smallpox, botulism (botulinum), plague and other biological agents.”
  5. “The Strategic National Stockpile, a emergency cache of critical pharmaceuticals that can be sent within 12 hours to counter outbreaks, has been greatly expanded.”
  6. “The stockpile…has 60 million treatment courses of antibiotics for anthrax and pneumonic plague.  About 300 million doses of smallpox vaccine can also be shipped.”
  7. “Officials say that the government is retooling efforts to encourage drug companies to invest in BioShield projects. and that the effort is paying off in new antitoxins for anthrax and botulism.”
  8. “All 50 states now can receive urgent disease reports around-the-clock and conduct year-round surveillance for diseases such as influenza.”
  9. “But the nation still lacks plans and an organized structure to respond to a massive disease outbreak with thousands of victims.”

Bioterrorism, Biosurveillance, Flu, Plague, Anthrax, Botulinium, Project Bioshield, Smallpox


Vijayaraghavan R. et. al, “Chemical Warfare Agents.” 2010, J Pharm Bioall Sci 2:166-78, Last Checked 21 February 2011.

  1. “The birth of modern CW was ushered in by the German gas attack with chlorine on 22 nd April 1915 at Ypres, Belgium.”
  2. “The use of these toxic chemicals, including phosgene, sulfur mustard and lewisites caused 100,000 deaths and 1.2 million casualties in World War I (WWI).”
  3. “Botulinum toxin is also known as agent X.  It is estimated that if 1 g of this toxin is aerosolized, it would kill more than one million people.”
  4. “The lethal dose for a 70-kg human is estimated to be approximately 0.7 μg if inhaled or 70 μg if ingested.”
  5. “Ricin is a very potent toxin of plant origin, isolated from the seeds of caster oil, Ricinus communis. It inhibits ribosome proteins, and the toxic dose for humans is about 0.1-1.0 μg/kg, depending on the mode of administration.”

Chemical, Botulinum, Ricin


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Notice of CDC’s Discontinuation of Investigational Pentavalent (ABCDE) Botulinum Toxoid Vaccine for Workers at Risk for Occupational Exposure to Botulinum Toxins,” CDC Report, October 28, 2011 Last Checked October 31, 2011

  1. “Effective November 30, 2011, CDC will no longer provide investigational Pentavalent (ABCDE) Botulinum toxoid (PBT) for vaccination of workers at risk for occupational exposure to Botulinum serotypes A, B, C, D, and E.”
  2. “The PBT was manufactured more than 30 years ago, therefore, the CDC has decided not to continue offering this investigational product.”
  3. “CDC’s decision is based on an assessment of the available data, which indicate a decline in immunogenicity of some of the toxin serotypes.”
  4. “PBT has been available through CDC since 1965 under an Investigational New Drug (IND) Application (BB-IND 161) for non-research use of PBT for workers at risk for occupational exposure.”
  5. “Studies by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) show that persons receiving this investigational product might still respond to toxin serotype A, and potency tests suggest that the PBT has not declined in recent years to toxin serotypes A and B (1), but evidence suggests this product is declining in immunogenicity for at least toxin serotypes C, D, and E because of its age.”
  6. “No replacement investigational or licensed botulism vaccine is available in the United States; however, a vaccine using recombinant technologies is under development by the DoD Chemical Biological Medical Systems Joint Project Management Office.”

Botulinum, Vaccination, Lab Safety, Drug Resistance