Category “A” Biological Agents are high-priority agents which pose the greatest security and health threat in a population. They are the primary most dangerous biological agents with the highest research preference due to their ease of dissemination, high morbidity, and high mortality. Agents in this category have the potential to cause mass public fear and societal disorder. Category “A” biological agents requires special public health preparedness and action, and they can be easily transmitted from person-to-person after being discharged in a defined animal or human population. They have the utmost potential for adverse security and public health impact which may result in multitudes of fatalities. Samples suspected to contain biological agents in Category “A” are analyzed in Biological Safety Level-4 (BL4) laboratories. BL4 laboratories are designed to handle and contain infectious specimens and pathogens that are suspected to be potentially dangerous to the general public.
Examples of biological agents in Category “A” include:
- Bacillus anthracis – that cause anthrax.
- Variola major (Smallpox) virus – that cause smallpox.
- Yersinia pestis – that cause plague.
- Francisella tularensis – that cause tularemia.
- Haemorrhagic fever viruses (e.g. Ebola virus, Marburg, Lassa fever, Machupo, and Hantaviruses) – that cause viral haemorrhagic fevers.
- Clostridium botulinum – that cause botulism.
Riedel S (2004). Biological warfare and bioterrorism: a historical overview. BUMC Proceedings, 17:400-406.
Poupard J. A and Miller L. A (1992). History of biological warfare: catapults to capsomeres. Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 666:9–20.
Klietmann W.F and Ruoff K.L (2001). Bioterrorism: implications for the clinical microbiologist. Clin. Microbiol. Rev, 14(2)364-381.
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) (2002). Control of Substances Hazardous to Health: Approved Codes of Practice, 4th edition. HSE Books. Sudbury.
Guillemin J (2006). Scientists and the history of biological weapons. European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) Reports, Vol 7, Special Issue: S45-S49.
Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories. 5th edition. U.S Department of Health and Human Services. Public Health Service. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. National Institute of Health. HHS Publication No. (CDC) 21-1112.2009.
Porta M (2008). A dictionary of epidemiology. 5th edition. New York: Oxford University Press.
Nelson K.E and Williams C (2013). Infectious Disease Epidemiology: Theory and Practice. Third edition. Jones and Bartleh Learning.
Murray P.R., Rosenthal K.S., Kobayashi G.S., Pfaller M. A. (2002). Medical Microbiology. 4th edition. Mosby Publishers, Chile.
Murray P.R, Baron E.J, Jorgensen J.H., Pfaller M.A and Yolken R.H (2003). Manual of Clinical Microbiology. 8th edition. Volume 1. American Society of Microbiology (ASM) Press, Washington, D.C, U.S.A.
Murray P.R, Baron E.J, Jorgensen J.H., Pfaller M.A and Yolken R.H (2003). Manual of Clinical Microbiology. 8th edition. Volume 2. American Society of Microbiology (ASM) Press, Washington, D.C, U.S.A.
Mandell G.L, Bennett J.E, Dolin R, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett’s Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, 5th ed. Philadelphia: Churchill Livingstone, 2002.
Madigan M.T., Martinko J.M., Dunlap P.V and Clark D.P (2009). Brock Biology of Microorganisms, 12th edition. Pearson Benjamin Cummings Inc, USA.