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Disease Fact Sheets

  • Anthrax
    Anthrax is a serious disease caused by Bacillus anthracis, a bacterium that forms spores. There are three types of anthrax: cutaneous (skin), inhalation (lungs) and digestive (gastrointestinal).
  • Blister Agents
    Blister agents comprise a family of persistent chemical agents also known as vesicant agents. They get their name because of the wounds that they cause that resemble blisters or burns. They include mustards, lewisites and phosgene oxime.
  • Blood Agents
    Blood agents are non-persistent agents that deprive the blood and organs of oxygen. They include arsine and cyanide.
  • Botulism
    Botulism is a muscle-paralyzing disease caused by a toxin made by a bacterium called Clostridium botulinum. There are several different types of botulism: food borne, infant, wound and inhalation.
  • Nerve Agents
    Nerve agents are cholinesterase inhibitors and do damage by affecting the nervous system. They are the most toxic and rapidly acting of the known chemical warfare agents. These agents include: Sarin, Soman, Tabun and VX.
  • Plague
    Plague is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis that affects humans and animals. This bacterium is found in rodents and their fleas and occurs in many areas of the world, including the United States. Plague infection takes three primary forms: bubonic (most common form), pneumonic and septicemic.
  • Smallpox
    Smallpox was a naturally occurring disease that killed an estimated 300 million people in the 20th century. Its scientific name is Variola major, a virus from the Orthpoxvirus family. It was officially eradicated in the 1980, but has recently become a potential bioterrorism threat.
  • Tularemia
    Tularemia is a potentially serious illness that occurs naturally and is caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis, which is found in animals (especially rodents, rabbits and hares). It is also known as Rabbit Fever or Deer Fly Fever. There are three types of Tularemia: ulceroglandular, inhalational and typhoidal.

Page last updated: May 13, 2021