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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Bioterrorism: The Laboratory's Role and Response. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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The international biohazard symbol

What if: Biological Attack

Biological attacks involve bacteria, viruses, or natural toxins. The effects of toxins can be immediate but for bacteria and viruses the effects may not be apparent for weeks. A bioterrorist may attack by infecting animals, contaminating food and water, spraying bacteria or viruses into the air. In infections such as smallpox and plague, once a few individuals are infected they can further spread the disease from person to person. An attack could also come through a building's ventilation system, the mail, or even through exposure to an infected terrorist seeking to spread disease during an infectious stage.