The term bioterrorism is a relatively recent addition to the English language, even though the concept and practices behind it are ancient. Bioterrorism today sports a number of different official definitions from international, national, state, and local organizations. Most definitions involve the deliberate or threatened use of biological agents (especially biological weapons agents) or toxins by nonstate actors in order to incite fear, spread sickness, and/or achieve political ends.

Despite the fact that the number of incidents of bioterrorism has so far remained low, official perceptions of the rising threat of bioterrorism in the late 1990s and the subsequent anthrax mailings of 2001 transformed bioterrorism into a significant subject of U.S. national discourse, policy, and action. Concerns about bioterrorism prompted many U.S. health security policy and ...

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