Experts warn that animal diseases can be used as biological weapons and the world should cooperate in preventing the spread of these diseases.
World Health Organization (WHO), animal health and national defense officers lead the call for action against the possible use of these diseases as weapons. WHO posted a list of animal diseases that have been associated with biological weapons, including anthrax, plague, botulism, smallpox and tularaemia.
"History has shown that animal diseases have often been used as weapons before. Advances in genetics can now make them even more harmful. So we are calling for further investment to be made at national level on bio-security," Bernard Vallat, director general of WHO-OIE, told reporters at a conference on biological threat reduction, Reuters reported.
While these diseases can be acquired due to natural causes, with the genetic engineering technology of today, intentional release of the diseases are very possible.
The OIE and WHO warned that animal disease agents could escape naturally, accidentally, but also intentionally from laboratories, to be used as bio-weapons. Earlier during the conference, Kenneth Myers, Director of the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), part of the Department of Defense, stressed the need for international collaboration to avoid the loss of biological material.
"Terrorists have clearly shown they will use any weapons at their disposal. These weapons are easy to transport and hard to detect," said Myers, according to Asia One News.
The biothreat reduction conference in Paris is the first of its kind to gather representatives and experts from health, security and defense sectors of over 120 countries.