The population of ticks and their geographic ranges are increasing day by day. Ticks frequently carry many infections at once.

By Syed Adnan, Muhammad Kasib Khan, Muhammad Adnan Sabir Mughal, Zaheer Abbas


The population of ticks and their geographic ranges are increasing day by day. Ticks frequently cary many infections at once. A variety of diseases is spread by ticks for which there is no vaccination and, in some circumstances, no cure. From the perspective of bioterrorism, it is very obvious that ticks might spread a variety of illnesses that could be introduced and spread to people.This article covers bioterrorism and tick-borne infectious diseases that are causing bioterrorism and are referred to as bioterrorist agents. These agents were used in world wars for mass killings as well.

Bioterrorist agents

Bioterrorist agents or pathogenic organisms used by terrorists to inflict sickness and death on people, animals, or plants are known as bioterrorism agents. Normally, these agents are bacteria that exist in nature, but it is possible to modify them to make them more virulent, immune to modern medicines or vaccinations, or better able to spread across the environment.

Bioterrorist agent of ticks

Ticks feed on a wide range of hosts, including people, animals, birds, reptiles, and household pets. The majority of them are vulnerable to the diseases that one or more types of ticks transmit. Ticks have distinctive ways of communicating with both the host and the pathogens they carry. Ticks have intricate defense mechanisms and remain on their host for extended periods of time. The blood flow to the region where ticks are eating can be increased. In order to hide their presence from the host, they secrete pain inhibitors. They also release a variety of intricate proteins that block the host’s immune system from eliminating them. The tick genome, which is around two-thirds the size of the human genome, is now relatively little understood. Similar genes with similar functions are present in plants and animals as well, but ticks have some different genes from other invertebrates.

Tularemia, Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever, and  Anaplasma phagocytophilum are one of the diseases that can be considered a bioterrorism


The bioterrorism agent Francisella tularensis the etiological agent of the zoonotic illness tularemia. F. tularensis is one of the most contagious pathogenic bacteria known; inhaling as few as ten organisms can result in sickness, and it has a significant capacity to cause serious illness and death. In the past, various nations developed bacteria into an aerosol biological weapon. Large numbers of cases of acute, nonspecific respiratory febrile illness should suddenly appear 3 to 5 days after F. tularensis aerosol distribution in populated regions.This disease can be spread through

  • Tick and deer fly bites
  • Skin contact with diseased animals
  • Consuming contaminated water
  • Inhalation of contaminated aerosols or agricultural and landscaping dust
  • Laboratory exposures

Because of its severe contagion, ease of dissemination, and capacity to inflict sickness and death, it is regarded as a hazardous potential biological weapon.

 History and Potential as a Biological Weapon:

From 1932 to 1945 Taluremia was  investigated and was also examined for military objectives in the West, F. Tularensis has been considered a possible biological weapon. Former Soviet Union weapons scientist believes that tularemia epidemics on the Soviet and German eastern fronts during WWII were planned.

During World War II, the Japanese, as well as the United States and its allies, investigated the potential of F. tularensis as a biological weapon. Tularemia was one of the numerous biological weapons that the United States military stored in the late 1960s, all of which were eliminated by 1973. Until the early 1990s, the Soviet Union continued to produce antibiotic- and vaccine-resistant strains for weaponry.

Epidemiology and outbreaks

 Tularemia has been discovered across the majority of North America, Europe, and Asia. It is mostly a rural illness, but it has been observed in urban locations as well. Small animals, such as mice, water rats, squirrels, and rabbits, serve as natural reservoirs of infection. They acquire infected by tick, fly, and mosquito bites, as well as exposure to polluted areas. Infectivity has been demonstrated in contaminated hay, water, infected dead animal corpses, chronically diseased animals, and aerosol particles.

Different outbreaks of this agent are seen in 1999,2000, 2004,2005, and 2007 in different regions of the world


Soviet union and the united state at the beginning of the 1930s developed the vaccination for millions of people and for laboratory workers. Immunity develops in around two weeks after either a natural illness or immunization.

Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) and Bioterrorism

Nairovirus, a virus spread by ticks, is the cause of the zoonotic illness CCHF. The spread of the illness is widespread. It is one of the most severe types of hemorrhagic fever. It is native to Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East and has a high fatality rate. CCHF not only poses a serious risk to the public’s health but also significantly impacts the medical community, particularly in nations with few resources. This disease nearly shows no symptoms in infected animals, but it is extremely lethal in people. In humans, the illness starts as vague febrile symptoms that develop into the hemorrhagic syndrome. Although ticks are a key disease vector, human-to-human transmission of the illness can  occur.

The Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus’s extraordinarily virulent nature has added to the fear that it may be used in biowarfare and bioterrorism, leading to being called an infectious agent. The CCHF virus can be transmitted from one person to another. Patients infected with the Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus have an unusual pattern of massive ecchymoses that is not present in other viral hemorrhagic fevers. The virus has also been demonstrated to have the capacity to spread by aerosolization of mucosal contact with blood and body fluids carrying the virus, which was investigated in Iraq as a possible biological weapon.

Epidemiology and outbreaks

Viremic animals that are subclinically infected with the virus or tick bites that have the virus can directly transfer the virus to people. It is also potential for human-to-human transmission, particularly in hospitals. Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever has been reported in around thirty different nations and has one of the broadest geographic ranges of all the major tick-borne viral diseases, closely resembling the known global distribution of the Hyalomma tick species. In most cases, outbreaks happen during the ticks’ peak activity phase (Hyalomma spp.). Despite the fact that Hyalomma spp. ticks are the primary factor in the epidemiology of CCHF, this virus was also isolated from ticks belonging to other genera (Boophilus, Rhipicephalus, Haemaphysalis, Dermacentor, and Ixodes spp.), which may have contributed to its wide ecological spread. Currently, the disease is sporadic and affects a large portion of Asia, Africa, and Europe. It has a mortality rate of over 30%. In Pakistan 1st case was reported in 1976


Ribavirin, an antiviral medication, has been successfully used to treat CCHF infection. It can be administered orally and intravenously


Ticks are bioterrorist agents and were previously used in world war on a larger scale that killed thousands of people. Some vaccines are available for controlling its hazardous effect. Since the tick-animal-tick cycle frequently goes unreported and the illness in domestic animals frequently goes undetected, it is challenging to prevent or manage infection in animals and ticks. Tick management with acaricides (chemicals designed to kill ticks) can only be a practical alternative. However, a proper measurement should be taken in order to protect from its bioterrorism effect and also we can protect ourselves by Wearing insect repellent, tucking our jeans into our boots or socks, taking a shower when we get inside, and checking ourselves frequently for ticks.