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History of Biowarfare Go to "History of Biowarfare"

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History of Biowarfare
by Susan K. Lewis

Natural epidemics of such scourges as smallpox and plague are terrifying enough. But the notion that these and other diseases can be harnessed as weapons of war is even more chilling. While rare, the use of biological weapons dates back centuries, and the recent anthrax attacks have brought home in a harrowing way how much of a role they may play in our present era.

Here, explore confirmed cases of biowarfare and bioterrorism throughout history, including several that are painfully recent. And learn more about state-sponsored programs that conceivably could provide the seeds of future attacks by terrorists.

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Susan K. Lewis is a contributing editor of NOVA Online.

Thanks to Dr. Mark Wheelis of the University of California, Davis for reviewing this history.

Photos: (1) WGBH/NOVA; (2,5) National Archives and Records Administration; (3) Native Web,; (4, 6-10) Corbis Images.

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