Rey Anthony Chiu
TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, November 16, 2012 (PIA) –The country is not yet equipped to detect the entry, much more the spread of bio-chemical weapons, should there be any coming to terrorize the people.
This is according to Dr. Maria Auxilia T. Siringan, head of the country’s top Micro-biological Research and Services Laboratory housed at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.
At the Speakers’ Bureau organized by the local Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in Tagbilaran, November 15, 2012, Dr. Siringan talked about Bioterrorism, a relevant issue now that technology has made it possible for man to tinker with the world of microbiology to advance their sinister ends.
The world has recently shuddered at the reported attacks to humanity by use of biological or chemical weapons, which have also killed innocents.
Dr. Siringan defines bioterrorism as the intentional release of biological agents or toxins such as bacteria, virus or other germs by individuals or groups for political, religious or ecological reasons as a form of protest.
Biological agents or toxins, like anthrax, butolinum toxin, plague, smallpox, tularemia, ebola viruses and still several other infectants are spread via aerosol based spray, water or food contamination, some affecting instantly, other taking months to manifest.
In 2001, America reported anthrax attacks, one that was accordingly spread by converting anthrax into powder and then floating them in the air in government buildings, hitting unsuspecting civilians.
By mid-September to November of the same year, America again had cases of anthrax attacks allegedly laced in letters sent to key state politicians.
History of bioterrorism, according to Dr. Siringan, dates back in the early centuries, when spreading bubonic plague almost wiped out most of Europe in the 14th century.
Having international alliances and being alleged as training grounds for international terrorist rings, the Philippines is now brought into the fore as a potential target for bioterror because of its “alleged roles” in breeding terrorists.
But, with the Philippines still in the conceptual stage of developing a bio-defense system with tight government finances, experts have asked national leaders to peek into the possibility of developing the country’s micro-biological research facilities some more to come up with a technological innovation that can detect the spread of the virus or toxins.
Early detection is critical as, in the case of anthrax, positive infection can manifest in flu like symptoms for about three days before the infections jumps to severe and death could come in the next two hours or a day, according to sources.
For this, the National Academy for Science and Technology is also urging students to get serious in studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics to lay the foundation for a future in microbiology or related advanced sciences. (30/HD/SJP)