Biological agents, unlike most war gases or
vapors, 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 between
exposure and onset of disease symptoms will usually
be a matter of days rather than hours, as is the case with
most chemical agents. Though they may be exposed to
the same dosage of biological agent, not all personnel
will be affected the same way. Some may become
seriously ill, while others may have a very mild attack.
Still others may escape the disease entirely.
In this section, we will discuss both individual and
group protection, as well as the methods of protecting
food and water supplies.
The natural resistance of the body and its
maintenance in the best possible physical condition
constitute important lines of defense against biological
agents. Immunity and good health alone, however,
cannot be expected to triumph over massive
onslaughts of biological agents. These agents may
have been tailored to create varying degrees of
incapacitation, including death.
To reduce the
effectiveness of such attacks, the military provides
protective equipment and a series of protocols to its
members. In general, these measures closely parallel
those provided for defense against chemical attack.
PORTALS OF ENTRY.Inhalation of airborne
organisms is considered the greatest potential hazard
in biological warfare.
The protective mask is an
important piece of defensive equipment. A mask that
is in good condition and has been properly fitted will
greatly reduce the possibility of your inhaling
Since you cannot detect the
presence of biological agents, the use of the mask and
other protective equipment will depend upon early
To produce disease, biological agents must gain
entrance into the body. A concentration of biological
agents on the skin might, in time, be transferred to a
portal of entry. Any type of clothing will provide some
protection by reducing the quantity of agents coming
in contact with the skin. The degree of protection
afforded is dependent upon how well the fabric stops
penetration and the number of layers of clothing being
Since this protective effect is due to the
mechanical filtering or screening action of the cloth, it
is important that shirt and jacket collars be fastened.
Sleeves should be rolled down and cuffs buttoned,
trouser cuffs stuffed inside tops of boots or socks, and
all other garment openings tied or otherwise secured.
Following this procedure will minimize the entry of
airborne organisms and reduce the risk of bodily
contact with biological agents that may be present on
the surface of the ground or in the air.
EQUIPMENT AND ACTION.Military
headgear helps safeguard the hair from heavy
contamination, and ordinary gloves or mittens provide
protection for the hands. The type of clothing issued
for protection against chemical agents is impregnated
with an impermeable barrier and provides a higher
degree of protection than the ordinary uniform.
Whenever it is available, it should be used.
Upon notification of an attack with biological
agents, or before entering an area known to be
contaminated by them, the following steps should be
1. Put on protective mask and check it for correct
2. Button clothing.
Tie clothing at wrists and
ankles with string or extra shoelaces. Put on
special protective clothing, if available.
3. Put on gloves, if available.
4. While in the contaminated area, maintain the
provisions outlined above.
Upon leaving the area, proceed with decontam-
ination measures to the extent the situation permits.
In biological as well as chemical and radiological
warfare, a tightly constructed shelter offers great
protection. The shelter must be pressurized to prevent
entrance of the microorganisms.
accomplished by introducing filtered air into the
shelter. If the shelter is reasonably tight, this incoming
air will force exhausted and/or contaminated air
outward. Nonpressurized buildings, shelters, or field
fortifications provide only limited protection from
aerosols. Eventually, microorganisms will penetrate
through cracks, creating a respiratory hazard requiring
the use of a protective mask. As in the case of other
protective equipment, the sooner a shelter is used
following contamination, the more effective the
shelter will be in arresting or staying in contact with