Secondary blast injuries are caused mainly by
EFFECTS OF BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS
collapsing buildings and by timber and other debris
Biological operations use living organisms to cause
flung about by the blast. Personnel may also be hurled
disease or death. They act on living matter only. Most
against stationary objects or thrown to the ground by
organisms that produce disease enter the body of the
high winds accompanying the explosion. Injuries
victim and grow in the human tissues. Some organisms
sustained are similar to those resulting from a
produce toxins (poisons) in food or water, and the poison
mechanical accident, such as bruises, concussions, cuts,
causes disease after the victim eats or drinks it.
Large-scale biological attacks by an enemy are as
yet an untried weapon. As far as it is known, there has
an underwater burst will produce various secondary
been no open attempt by any country to use this form of
injuries. Casualties resemble those caused by more
conventional underwater weapons, such as mines and
characteristics that favor them over other types of
warfare, and the possibility y of their use in the future must
depth charges; but instead of being localized, they
be anticipated. Only small amounts of the agents are
extend over the entire ship. Injuries also will result from
needed, because the organisms are alive and multiply in
personnel being thrown against fixed objects or
the victims. Moreover, they are difficult to detect and
structures. Equipment, furniture, boxes, and similar
slow to identify. A whole ship's company might be
gear, when not secured properly, can act as missiles and
infected before the medical department realized a
cause many injuries.
disease existed on board.
Frequently, hemorrhage and shock are serious
complications of blast injuries. The importance of shock
agents on a large scale is through aerosols, which
cannot be overemphasized, because it is often-the main
generally are invisible and odorless. Aerosols can be
consideration in determining the fate of the patient.
released from aircraft in bombs or direct sprays, from
surface vessels on onshore winds, or from any number
missiles, and rockets.
Heat from nuclear weapons causes burns. These
Animals and insects can be used as carriers to spread
bums can be grouped into two categories: primary and
secondary. Primary burns are a direct result of the
thermal radiation from the bomb. Secondary burns are
Another method of quickly infecting large numbers
the result of fires caused by the explosion.
of people is for saboteurs to contaminate a water supply.
Diseases, such as typhoid fever, cholera, and influenza,
As with blast injuries, shock is commonly
can be spread by infecting water, milk, and food supplies
associated with extensive burns. Burns are also subject
with the proper microorganisms.
to infection, which may produce serious consequences.
Flash burns are likely to occur on a large scale as a
EFFECTS OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS
result of an air or surface burst of a nuclear weapon.
Because thermal radiation travels in straight lines, it
Nuclear weapons produce explosions of great force
bums primarily on the side facing the explosion; but
and heat and release nuclear radiation. Their primary
purpose is the mass destruction of property and
under hazy atmospheric conditions, a large proportion
personnel. Their effects are divided into three
of the thermal radiation may be scattered, resulting in
categories: blast, heat, and nuclear radiation.
bums received from all directions. Depending on the
size of the weapon, second-degree burns may be
received at distances of 25 miles or more.
The intense flash of light that accompanies a nuclear
Injuries caused by blast can be divided into primary
burst may produce flash blindness, even at a range of
(direct) injuries and secondary (indirect) injuries.
several miles. Flash blindness is normally of a
Primary blast injuries result from the direct action of the
temporary nature since the eyes can recover in about 15
air shock wave (overpressure) on the human body. The
minutes in the daytime and in about 45 minutes at night.
greater the size of the weapon, the greater the effective
A greater danger lies in receiving permanent damage to
range of the blast wave will be with a subsequent
increase in casualties.
your eyes caused by burns from thermal radiation,