In contrast to CW agents, the presence of BW
agents cannot be detected by the physical senses or by
chemical detectors. Their presence or identity can be
determined only by laboratory examination of air
samples or contaminated objects. The time lag
between exposure to BW and the onset of symptoms
will usually be a matter of days, rather than hours. All
persons will not be similarly affected even though
exposed to the same dosage of BW agents. Some may
escape disease entirely, some may have a very mild
attack, and some may become seriously ill.
Defense against BW is not simple or easy.
Individual protection against a BW attack includes the
use of protective equipment. The protective equipment
used for defense against CW may also be used for BW
defense. Your first line of defense against BW is the
natural resistance of the body (the immune system) and
maintaining your body in the best possible physical
condition. A high standard of personal cleanliness and
careful attention to sanitation are your best assurance
against the spread of disease. Such steps are supported
by the immunizations you receive periodically.
The inhalation of airborne germs is considered to
be the greatest potential hazard in BW. Your protective
mask is an important component of defensive
equipment. A properly fitted mask, which has been
kept in good condition, will greatly reduce the danger
of inhaling infectious material present in the air. Since
you cannot detect the presence of biological agents,
you may be ordered to use your protective mask and
equipment until the danger has passed. Your
commanding officer will base his/her decision upon
information received from intelligence reports and the
advice of his/her technical staff or higher headquarters.
To produce disease, germs must actually gain
entrance into your body. When germs collect on your
skin, they may be transferred to a portal of entry,
through your nose or mouth. Cuts or open sores are an
invitation to germs trying to enter your body. Make
sure you keep cuts bandaged. Any type of clothing will
provide some protection against BW agents. The
degree of protection depends upon the size of the pores
in the fabric and the number of layers of clothing being
worn. To keep out germs and disease-bearing insects
such as mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks, it is important to
fasten the shirt and jacket collar, roll down sleeves and
button cuffs, and tie down all other clothes. A special
uniform (not discussed in this book) used for
The following survival tips are recommended for
REPORT SICKNESS PROMPTLY. If you
become ill, notify medical immediately.
KEEP YOURSELF AND YOUR LIVING
QUARTERS CLEAN. Do not foster the growth of
germs by making it easy for them to multiply. Germs
protection against CW agents gives a higher degree of
protection against BW agents than ordinary clothing.
The extent to which decontamination can be
accomplished following exposure to BW agents
depends upon the existing tactical situation and the
facilities available. Each person is responsible for
carrying out personal decontamination measures at the
If you are exposed to BW agents, scrub yourself
thoroughly with soap and water as soon as the combat
situation permits. Give special attention to your face
and hands. To remove dirt from under your nails, use a
fingernail brush. Also, brush your teeth frequently.
Carefully remove your contaminated clothes and take
a bath or shower. All washable clothes polluted with
germs should be scrubbed at the first opportunity.
Always be careful about the food and water you
consume in combat. If you are told that a BW attack
has occurred, be extremely cautious. One of the
easiest ways to get biological agents inside your body
is to swallow them along with your food and water.
Defense against BW includes:
Remember the BIO sign; it means the area is
contaminated with biological agents.
Do not pick and eat fruits or berries.
Do not chew grass or leaves.
Do not eat native food or drink native beverages.
They may be contaminated intentionally or
Do not take souvenirs.
Consume only beverages received from military
Do not bathe in lakes or ponds.
Do not touch animals.
Survival Tips for Biological Warfare