Countering the livestock-targeted bioterrorism threat and responding with an animal health safeguarding system.
Attacks against livestock and poultry using biological agents constitute a subtype of agroterrorism. These attacks are defined as the intentional introduction of an animal infectious disease to strike fear in people, damage a nation's economy and/or threaten social stability. Livestock bioterrorism is considered attractive to terrorists because biological agents for use against livestock or poultry are more readily available and difficult to monitor than biological agents for use against humans. In addition, an attack on animal husbandry can have enormous economic consequences, even without human casualties. Animal husbandry is vulnerable to livestock-targeted bioterrorism because it is nearly impossible to secure all livestock animals, and compared with humans, livestock are less well-guarded targets. Furthermore, anti-livestock biological weapons are relatively easy to employ, and a significant effect can be produced with only a small amount of infectious material. The livestock sector is presently very vulnerable to bioterrorism as a result of large-scale husbandry methods and weaknesses in the systems used to detect disease outbreaks, which could aggravate the consequences of livestock-targeted bioterrorism. Thus, terrorism against livestock and poultry cannot be thought of as either a 'low-probability' or 'low-consequence' incident. This review provides an overview of methods to prevent livestock-targeted bioterrorism and respond to terrorism involving the deliberate introduction of a pathogen-targeting livestock and poultry.