/////Aubrey Hough, 2004 Distinguished Faculty Scholar, Talks Bioterrorism
Aubrey Hough, 2004 Distinguished Faculty Scholar, Talks Bioterrorism 2018-01-05T09:11:32+00:00

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 University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) College of Medicine.

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 United States injected horses with anthrax on their way to Europe during World War I.

·        Japanese carried out extensive lethal bioexperiments on prisoners in Manchuria (1937- 45). Anthrax, plague and typhus were all used.

·        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 World Trade Center. In Florida, a man died after inhaling anthrax at the office of American Media Inc. Later, four others died, including two postal workers.

Hough also discussed some of the bioterrorism threats we currently face:

·        Emerging tropical and subtropical infectious diseases could be introduced to North America.

·        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 United States.

·        Black-tailed prairie dogs are the primary carriers of plague in the United States. Currently, there are prairie dogs in Texas found to be infected with bubonic plague, according to the Texas Department of Health.

The Distinguished Faculty Scholar Award recognizes outstanding faculty whose contributions to academic medicine have brought honor and prestige to the College of Medicine. Hough is internationally known for his work in adrenal tumor pathology and the pathogenesis of arthritic disorders. Over the past 21 years, he has directed the Department of Pathology with distinction and has brought the department to regional and national prominence.

Hough is a 1966 graduate of Hendrix College with high honors and is one of only approximately 60 in the college’s 128-year history to be honored as a Distinguished Alumnus. He earned his medical degree in 1970 from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, where he was a Justin Potter Merit Scholar and secretary of the Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society. After two years with the United States Public Health Service in Bethesda, Md., he returned to Vanderbilt as residency program director and was promoted to associate professor of pathology in 1978.

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 College of Medicine biodefense programs.

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 Western Center for Biodefense and Emergency Infections, a federally designated center made up of more than 30 institutions in five states where he is a member of the executive committee.

Links on This Page

UAMS: www.uams.edu

NOVA Online: Bioterror: www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/bioterror

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