Threat of insect-based bioterror reviewed

A recent workshop at the University of Florida looked at the possibility of an insect-based form of terrorism that could be launched in the state.

The workshop, titled “Counteracting Bioterrorist Introduction of Pathogen-Infected Vector Mosquitoes,” was be held at the University of Florida from May 20 through May 22, reports.

Officials at the workshop noted that many dangerous pathogens are already transmitted by arthropods. Thus far, however, the U.S. has not been exposed to a large-scale spread of vector-borne diseases like Japanese encephalitis or chikungunya fever.

According to several experts who spoke to, the threat, though, is real enough. Terrorists with even a rudimentary knowledge on insects and their breeding habits could potentially release insects carrying diseases in tropical climate states.

Officials noted that, at this time, there is no governmental organized plan to develop the resources for mosquito control that would prevent such an attack, according to the report.

The workshop was co-sponsored by the University of Florida's Emerging Pathogens Institute, the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory and the USDA Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology.

Former governor and senator Bob Graham, the author of "World At Risk," which said that the U.S> government has not yet adapted to the current circumstance of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, also spoke at the workshop.