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Foodborne Pathog Dis. 2012 Oct;9(10):869-77. doi: 10.1089/fpd.2012.1146.

Livestock agroterrorism: the deliberate introduction of a highly infectious animal pathogen.

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Foreign Animal Diseases Division, Animal, Plant, and Fisheries Quarantine and Inspection Agency, Gyeonggi-do, Republic of Korea.


Agroterrorism refers to attacks with any of a variety of biological or chemical agents against commercial crops or livestock populations, either as targets in their own right or as vehicles to attack humans. An agroterrorism incident would generally involve bioterrorism, and potential agents include pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, or fungi. Within the context of agroterrorism, livestock agroterrorism is described as the intentional introduction of an animal-borne infectious disease with the goal of spreading fear, producing economic losses, and/or threatening social stability. Causing human illness or human casualties is another potential goal of livestock agroterrorism. Livestock agroterrorism is considered to be attractive to terrorists because biological agents that affect livestock or poultry are more readily available and more difficult to monitor than are agents that infect humans. In addition, a terrorist attack on animal husbandry may have huge economic consequences with no human casualties. Therefore, a biological attack that targets the animal husbandry sector should be regarded as both a "high-consequence" event and a grave national security risk. This review addresses the use of biological weapons that may be used to target livestock or poultry rather than agricultural inputs or equipment. It first defines livestock agroterrorism. Then, the common priority disease agents that may be used to target livestock or poultry in an agroterrorist attack and that are attractive to terrorists are outlined.

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