Assyrians contaminated the water supply of their enemies by poisoning their wells with Rye Ergot. The master tactician Solon used the herb hellebore (skunk cabbage) to poison the water supply during his siege of Krissa.
Plague broke out in the ranks of the Tartar army during its siege of Kaffa. The Tartars then hurled the corpses of the dead over the city walls using catapults and the plague epidemic which soon followed forced the defenders to surrender. Historians believe that those infected Kaffans who managed to escape detection and escape could have started the Black Death pandemic which spread across Europe.
Napoleon tried to infect the people of Mantua with swamp fever during his Italian campaign.
Dr Anton Dilger, a noted German-American Physician, established a small biological agent production facility at his northwest Washington, DC home. Using cultures of Bacillus Anthracis (Anthrax) and Pseudomonas Mallei (Glanders) supplied by the Imperial German government, Dilger produced an estimated liter or more of liquid agent. He reportedly passed the agent and a standard inoculation device to dock workers in Baltimore who used them to infect a reported 3500 horses, mules and cattle destined for the Allied troops who were waging World War 1. Several Hundred military personnel were infected as well.
Despite the efforts of the international community to control the use of biological and chemical weapons, Japan dabbled with such weapons throughout the 30s and employed them against the Chinese forces when invading China and Manchuria.
The British conducted Anthrax tests off the coast of Scotland on Gruinard Island. Today, the abandoned island is still believed to be infected with anthrax spores.
1950 - 1970
The US proceeds with its offensive biological weapons initiative that started during World War 2. The U.S Army conducts tests in certain US States using nonpathogenic bacteria. The program ends with a large number of tests being carried out in the Pacific Ocean. Sources indicate that offensive biological weapons were used and the operation, carried out in the utmost secrecy, involved many ships loaded with caged animals. At the end of 1969, President Nixon orders the termination of the offensive biological weapons program and orders all stockpiled weapons destroyed.
The Biological Weapons Convention prohibits the research, development and proliferation of offensive biological weapons. The treaty does, however, allow defensive work in this discipline to continue.
In Sverdlovsk, Russia, around a hundred people are infected with Anthrax. In this outbreak, 64 die and the Russian government blames the outbreak on contaminated meat. International scientific and intelligence communities are doubtful about that claim and wonder if an accidental release of Anthrax spores from a nearby bio weapons facility was responsible instead. Finally, in 1989, Dr. Vladimir Pasechnick, the former director of the Leningrad Institute of Ultrapure Biological Preparations, defects to the UK and reveals that the Russian government had an offensive biological weapons program despite it signing the BWC in 1972.
The 80s saw the eradication of smallpox and, to a certain extent, polio after a long and successful vaccination campaign by the Center for Disease control, based in Atlanta. Today, only two labs officially have smallpox stocks. The Center for Disease Control in Atlanta and the Ivanovsky Institute in Mexico.
Iraq uses chemical weapons in its war against neighboring Iran. After it's defeat at the hands of the US Forces in 1991, Iraq is ordered by the UN security council to halt all biological, chemical and nuclear weapons programs it might have.
Evidence of an offensive program in Russia is found when US and UK inspectors visit suspected biological facilities in Russia. The team believed that biological agents such as smallpox, anthrax and plague were used. The Russians deny any wrongdoing and within a year, send over a team to inspect closed-up US biological facilities Dr. Kanatjan Alibekov , former deputy director of the civilian arm of Russia's biological weapons program, defects to the US and confirms suspicions that Russia had used smallpox to make weapons. President Yeltsin, in an unprecedented move, admitted that the Anthrax outbreak in Sverdlovsk was caused, in part by activity at the military installation.
The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) is established. Similar to the BWC, it prohibits the research and production of chemical agents such as Sarin and VX Nerve Gas. In the same year, Six people die and hundreds are injured when a bomb explodes at the World Trade Towers in New York City. Six people die and hundreds are injured. Analysts suspect the bomb was laced with Cyanide that failed to ignite.
The US Defense Department starts an Anthrax vaccination program to immunize all personnel against Anthrax. President Clinton, backed by Congress, approves two new presidential decision directives to improve the country's ability to respond to the threat of a biological and chemical weapons terrorist attack. An additional one billion is channeled into the defense budget and Richard Clarke is appointed as the national coordinator for all antiterrorism initiatives.
It was not long after the attacks of Sept. 11/01 that biological warfare came out in full force. With an unknown source, Anthrax was detected in different parts of the U.S, found in post offices, mail sorting rooms and newspaper, television and government offices. This has put the whole world, especially North American, on high alert as the number of victims grew steadily with in the fallowing weeks.