Bioterror Timeline: Fun for the Whole Family

Bioterror Timeline

Terror through the ages! Bone up on some of our top bioterrorism attacks that prove humanity has been gunning for its own destruction for as long as it’s been eking out an existence on this disaster-plagued planet.

YearUse of Bioterror
400 BCEScythian archers dipped their arrows in decomposing bodies,
blood mixed with manure, and snakes!
300 BCEPersian, Greek, and Roman literature have examples of the use of dead animals for contaminating wells and other sources of water.
190 BCEDuring the Battle of Eurymedon, Hannibal won over King Eumenes II of Pergamon. This was in part due to the firing of earthen vessels full of venomous snakes into the enemy ships.
12th Century
Barbarossa used the decomposing bodies of dead soldiers to poison wells.
This was during the battle of Tortona.
14th Century
During the siege of Kaffa, Tatar forces hurled plague-infected corpses into the city.
They did it in a bid to cause an epidemic. 
1710 CERussian forces at Reval, Estonia catapulted dead bodies of
plague victims at the Swiss forces.
18th Century
During the French and Indian War, Sir Jeffrey Amherst directed the British forces. He gave native Americans blankets used by smallpox victims to spread the disease.
World War I (1914-1918)The German Army developed anthrax, glanders, cholera, and a wheat fungus for use as biological weapons.

Russia infected mules with glanders in Mesopotamia and attempted to do the same with the horses of the French Cavalry.
World War II (1939-1945)Japanese forces ran a secret warfare research facility in Manchuria. There 3000+ prisoners were exposed to the plague, anthrax, and syphilis. This was to develop and observe the diseases. The unit also dropped plague-infected fleas in China, which resulted in 50,000+ deaths.

The United States army stockpiled enough quantities of botulinum toxin and anthrax, to retaliate ‘indefinitely’ in case the Germans resorted to bio-warfare first. 

For the same reason, the British army stockpiled anthrax-laced cattle cakes.
1950s to 1970sThe United States’ curiosity about the risks and potential of bio-warfare agents continued through the 50s. 

1951-1954: To reveal how vulnerable the US was, test organisms (harmless) were released on both coasts. 

1966: A similar test was conducted by releasing a test substance (harmless) in the New York City subway system.
Vietnam War (1955-1975)Viet Cong guerrillas used needle-sharp punji sticks dipped in feces.
This caused severe infections in stabbed enemy soldiers.
1979The release of anthrax from a weapons facility in Sverdlovsk, USSR killed at least 66 people.
1984The cult followers of Baghwan Shree Rajneesh sickened 751 people in Oregon. They placed salmonella bacteria in salad bars in 10 restaurants to keep people from voting in an election.
1990sThe cult Aum Shinrikyo attempted to release anthrax and botulinum toxin in Tokyo. They failed to do that, but succeeded in a chemical attack with Sarin nerve agent.
2001Anthrax attacks happened through the US mail. 11 people got infected with inhalational anthrax, of which 5 died. 11 others got infected with cutaneous (skin) anthrax, of which there were no fatalities.

Thanks for reading! Go forth to spread the word of inevitable biological terrorism.

…Just kidding! You can get ahead of the curve by preparing for an attack with a few simple supplies. Check out our complete guide to learn more.

"Bring out yer dead! GIF

About the Author

Writer, editor, and professional joker with an environmental science background. Like most trivia nerds, she's an ardent admirer of Only Connect competitors, but more at home on the QI field.

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