AUG. 2, 2004 | The anthrax scare after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks brought home to many Americans how biological weapons might be used in modern warfare.
But the threat and use of infectious diseases and poisons to harm and terrorize the masses is nothing new, Aubrey J. Hough, M.D., told more than 200 people crowded into UAMS conference rooms last week.
Armies, politicians and fanatics have been intentionally spreading disease for centuries and even millenniums. What’s more, every type of biological weapon created ultimately has been used, said Hough, associate dean for Translational Research and Special Projects in the
The evolution of bioterrorism was the focus of a lecture delivered by Hough on July 20 upon receiving the 2003-2004 UAMS College of Medicine Distinguished Faculty Scholar Award. The lecture was entitled “Bioterrorism: Past, Present, and Future—Academics Confronts Armageddon” and was attended by faculty members, Hough’s family and friends and some of his former college professors.
Hough traced the history of bioterrorism, which was even a part of Greek mythology when Apollo, the archer of the Greek gods, used arrows contaminated with the plague. The following are examples detailed in his lecture of how biological weapons have been used throughout history:
· In Biblical days, plague broke out among the Philistines after they stole the Ark of the Covenant (1st Samuel).
· Parthian warriors (circa 150 B.C.) were adept at archery but also experienced in using mass poisoning of enemies with natural toxins.
· Romans frequently used dead animals to poison enemies’ wells.
· Catapults were first used to throw plague victims into cities by Mongols in 1346 A.D. at Kaffa.
· Gen. Sir Jeffrey Amherst authorized small pox blankets to be given to Delaware Indians at a peace conference in 1763.
· During the Civil War, Confederate troops killed farm animals in ponds to pollute water supplies ahead of Gen. William T. Sherman and the invading Union Army.
· In 1917, German agents in the
· Japanese carried out extensive lethal bioexperiments on prisoners in
· Iraq developed SCUD missiles to carry bioweapons in the late 1980s.
· In 2001, a letter containing anthrax spores was mailed to NBC one week after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and
Hough also discussed some of the bioterrorism threats we currently face:
· Emerging tropical and subtropical infectious diseases could be introduced to
· Tularemia, a potentially fatal bacterial infection spread by infected ticks and other insects, could be developed as an antibiotic-resistant aerosol. The bacteria exist widely in nature, especially the south central
· Black-tailed prairie dogs are the primary carriers of plague in the
The Distinguished Faculty Scholar Award recognizes outstanding faculty whose contributions to academic medicine have brought honor and prestige to the
Hough is a 1966 graduate of
He has served on a number of national committees in pathology and medical education, including a five-year period as a member at large of the National Board of Medical Examiners and two separate two-year terms as Chief of Staff of UAMS Medical Center.
Hough joined UAMS in 1980 as a professor and vice chairman of the Department of Pathology. He served as chairman of the department from 1981-2002, earning such honors as the Distinguished Professor Award from the Arkansas Caduceus Club, the Sophomore Golden Apple Teaching Award and the Red Sash Award by the senior class for teaching in 1984 and 1986-2003. He was appointed Associate Dean for Special Projects in 2003 and placed in charge of the
His current research efforts are funded by several grants including a Health Resource and Services Administration Grant for a statewide Bioterrorism Education Partnership, the largest of its kind given to any medical sciences campus. He also has developed participation of UAMS in the
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NOVA Online: Bioterror: www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/bioterror
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