Production facilities scaled to produce the quantity and quality of etiologic agent typical of military biological warfare commonly operate at the P3 or P4 biological containment level and have specialized production equipment, such as 20-liter or larger fermenters, often with continuous flow systems; centrifugal separators with a flow rate of 100 liters or more per minute; cross-tangential) flow filtration equipment with a total filtration area equal to or greater than 1 square meter; and freeze-drying equipment with a condenser capacity of 10 kg of ice or greater in 24 hours. Other indicators of work with high-consequence pathogens are personal protection full or half-suits, class III biological safety cabinets or isolators with similar performance standards, and chambers designed for aerosol challenge. Equipment of these types is examined in UN weapons inspections. The U.S. limits their export to questionable countries.
However, many biological crimes and terrorist attacks have been conducted with a much smaller footprint than that of a state-sponsored biological weapons program. The Rajneesh attack on a salad bar, which sickened more than 600 people,16 and the Shigella contamination of muffins17 required only a small clinical incubator. The New Zealand rabbit calicivirus epidemic that began with a bloodstained handkerchief, and started an epidemic that killed millions of wild rabbits required only a kitchen blender and one infected liver. Lack of conventional production capabilities should not rule out a possible intentional event.
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