content of this section changes every 30-45 days. The terms
are taken from the book The Language of
Nightmares, A. L. Ternay, Jr., Simpler Life Press, Denver,
ISBN 0-9619806-4-8. If you would like a definition for a
specific term, please
e-mail us. Definitions will be
provided in a future column. Words in boldface-italics
will be defined in the future. The book is available for purchase from Amazon.com,
Barnesandnoble.com, The Tattered Cover in Denver, MacDonald
Bookstore in Estes Park, CO as well as from the author.
A somtimes fatal illness caused by exposure to Clostridium botulinum. The family of toxins (poison) produced by this organism is considered to be the most toxic material known to medicine and has been considered as a biological weapon. The toxin produces a descending paralysis and exposure requires medical support to avoid death. One of these toxins is used, in a very controlled manner, for cosmetic purposes (e.g., wrinkle reduction).
A poison (toxin) found within the seeds of the castor bean plant, Ricinus communis. As little as one milligram (one one-thousandth of a gram) can kill an adult. The toxin within even one bean may be enough to kill a child. When ingested, poisoning symptoms occur within a few hours and include vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea. After several days, symptoms include a decrease in urination and blood pressure. Death, if it is to occur, happens within 3-5 days. Toxicity is reduced if the beans are swallowed whole (without chewing). There is no generally applicable therapy.
A weapon (bomb) developed by the Allies during World War II based upon ricin. It was not used during the war.
This is often known as "bubonic plague", "septicemic plague", or "pneumonic plague", depending upon symptom manifestation. Plague is a disease of rats and mice that can be transmitted to humans. The disease, caused by the microorganism Yersinia pestis, is a significant potential biological weapon. It was responsible for several major pandemics including the infamous "Black Death" in which more than 40 million people died. While usually treatable with antibiotics, delayed treatment can lead to fatalities. Plague is endemic in the Western United States.
A HEPA filter: "High Efficiency Particulate Air" filter. A filter to remove some materials from the air. While they have some ability to remove some biological threat agents from the air, they are less effective in removing chemical threats.