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Q Fever as a Biological Weapon.

Coxiella burnetii fulfills all requirements for biological weapon:

  • it consistently causes disability,
  • it can be manufactured on a large scale,
  • it remains stable under production, storage and transportation conditions,
  • it can be efficiently disseminated via aerosol,
  • it remains viable for years after dissemination.

The microbe is deemed a category B biological terrorist agent, since, although it has potential for large-scale dissemination, its lacks capacity for the massive fatalities potentially caused by category A agents (small pox, anthrax, plague, botulism, tularemia and viral haemorrhagic fevers).

Some studies have indicated C.burnetii might be more suitable for use as the biological weapon than the category A agents:

  • because of its widespread availability,
  • natural potential for aerosolised use,
  • environmental stability,
  • and the possibility of producing large quantities of infectious material.

If used against troops, loss of manpower can range from 23 to 77%.

If used as a biological weapon in a civilian population, the degree of infectivity may rival that of anthrax, and althought associated mortality will be low, Q fever can cause extensive acute and chronic morbidity.