Click on any microorganism below, or click on the upward pointing arrow to go to the Main page of the article.
A product of the bacterium Clostridium Botulinum, this toxin is the single most toxic substance (on a weight basis) in the world.
The dose that is lethal to 50% of the population exposed (LD50) is just 1 ng/kg of body weight. In other words, just 60 ng ( or 0.00006 grams) would have a 50% chance of killing a 60 kg man.
Looking at it from yet another angle, 1 kg ( yes, One) of this stuff if exposed properly to 16 MILLION people will kill half (or 8 MILLION) of them!
0.00006 grams --------- 50% chance of killing a 60kg man.
(1/0.0006) X 1000 = 16,666,666.6666666666666666666666667 or approx 16 (actually 17) million.
All the Botulinum toxins (there are 8 varieties with varying toxicities, the figures given above are for the subtype that is most toxic) are neurotoxins. They derange the physiology of the Neuromuscular junctions by acting on the presynaptic terminals, ultimately causing gradually increasing paralysis in all parts of the body.
1) The bacterium that produces
botox, Clostridium botulinum.
The eyes are affected initially, with the ocular movements becoming retarded.
This progresses to ptosis. On around the fourth day, speech becomes
indistinct and gait uncertain as patients complain of extreme weakness.
The disease may go on to involve the respiratory system, rendering the patient
incapable of breathing by himself, as a result of which he may need to be placed
on a respirator. Because the disease is generally self-limiting, the case
fatality rate is very low (~10%) IF
top-notch medical care including artificial respirators is available.
However, please note that 19,000 liters here does NOT correspond to 19,000 kg of the stuff. I don't know the exact concentration of the Iraqi liquid, but it is surely not 1kg/lit.
Ease of Delivery:
However, botulinum does get inactivated by sunlight (within 1-3 hours)
Patients having respiratory paralysis need to be kept on artificial respirators, without which they would DEFINITELY die. I haven't counted the exact number of respirators in KEM, but have seen quite a few fights between the registrars for getting respirators allotted to their patients. All in all, I don't think the total number of respirators in KEM exceeds 100.
If a moderate quantity (say 100 gms) of Botulinum toxin were to be
distributed perfectly over Bombay, around 8.3 million people would be at risk of
dying. Granted, not all of them would develop respiratory paralysis, but would
there be enough respirators for those who did? Probably not.
Interesting Facts About Botox :
1) One more thing about the toxicity of Botox. It is15,000 times more toxic by weight than VX (the dreaded chemical warfare agent) and 100,000 times more toxic than Sarin (the agent that AumShirinkyo released in the Tokyo subway).
2) Before Aum Shirinkyo (the fanatical Japanese cult) released Sarin into the subways of Tokyo, they had tried may times, unsuccessfully, to release botox.
Heydrich was attacked by Czech nationalists in Prague, with a grenade that
had been kept below his car and which when it exploded drove fragments through
his seat and into his lung, diaphragm and spleen.
Image : "The butcher of Prague" . Please click on the image to view a larger version.
The German pathologists noticed no life-threatening pathologies during the autopsy. The autopsy report stated that : "...death occurred as a consequence of ... bacteria and possibly by poisons carried ... by the bomb splinters...."
Click here to read more about
the incident. Includes some information that apparently supports the theory.
Personally, I think it's all baloney.