Soldiers at risk for aerosol anthrax attacks

The San Antonio Express-News reports that U.S. soldiers remain most likely to need a vaccine to prevent an aerosol-delivered dose of anthrax attack.

According to C.J. Peters, the John Sealy distinguished university chair in tropical and emerging virology at the University of Texas medical branch at Galveston, anthrax is the military's greatest bioterrorism threat, even more so than Influenza A.

“Anthrax and smallpox are at the top not by accident," Sealy said, the newspaper reports. "Anthrax is, I think, the most likely agent we'll face in the future. Smallpox is unlikely but would be disastrous if someone had it.”

The discussion of anthrax and other bioterrorism agents was part of the recent annual gathering of the Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas in San Antonio.

“These really are agents of mass destruction or mass casualties,” Peters told the newspaper. “You don't have to go hand to hand with your targets. It could be deployed readily and it's within the reach of motivated terrorist or state actors.”

As well as anthrax and Influenza A, Peters showed other possible bioterrorism threats to those in attendance, including possibilities that he said, according to the newspaper, aren't being given the consideration they deserve for the threats they pose.

“We're not thinking much about crop agents and not as much as we should be about veterinary agents; the unexpected new emerging infectious diseases we don't know much about until they set upon us and we have one of those every couple of years; and we're not thinking very much about bio-engineered material,” he said, according to the News-Express.