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Bioterrorism Infectious Products Blood Test

Last updated May 10, 2019

Approved by: Krish Tangella MD, MBA, FCAP

The Bioterrorism Infectious Products Blood test detects the organisms causing anthrax, botulism, or smallpox.

What are the other Names for this Test? (Equivalent Terms)

  • Anthrax Blood Test
  • Botulism Blood Test
  • Smallpox Blood Test

What is the Bioterrorism Infectious Products Blood Test? (Background Information)

  • Bioterrorism infectious products are biological agents, such as bacteria and viruses, used to purposely infect individuals and cause disease. The biological agents may be genetically modified to increase their deadliness
  • Virtually any microorganism that can infect a human and cause disease may be used as a bioweapon. Even low-potency and relatively harmless microbes may be engineered to make them virulent
  • Several factors contribute to a microorganism’s potential as a bioterrorism agent. These include:
    • Mode of transmission
    • Mechanism of infection and virulence
    • Ease of genetic manipulation
  • The most commonly used bioweapons include anthrax, botulism, and smallpox
  • Anthrax is caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis. Naturally, it is transmitted through skin contact and absorption by the gastrointestinal tract. Weaponized anthrax is transmitted through inhalation. It mainly affects the respiratory system, causing coughing and lack of oxygen
  • Botulism is caused by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. It produces the botulinum toxin, which is transmitted through the gastrointestinal tract and lungs. It mainly affects the nervous system, causing paralysis
  • Smallpox is caused by two variola virus variants - variola major, the severe form, and variola minor, the less severe form. It is transmitted through inhalation and causes respiratory conditions, fever, and rashes
  • The Bioterrorism Infectious Products Blood test detects the organisms causing anthrax, botulism, or smallpox. It is used to notify the US Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control of a possible bioterrorism threat

What are the Clinical Indications for performing the Bioterrorism Infectious Products Blood Test?

Following are the clinical indications for performing the Bioterrorism Infectious Products Blood Test:

  • Suspected bioterrorism 
  • Unusually severe symptoms affecting multiple individuals within a short period
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Rash
  • Skin lesions
  • Flaccid paralysis
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Trouble breathing
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Altered mental status
  • Vision defects

How is the Specimen Collected for the Bioterrorism Infectious Products Blood Test?

Following is the specimen collection process for Bioterrorism Infectious Products Blood Test:

Sample required: Blood

Process of obtaining blood sample in adults:

  • A band is wrapped around the arm, 3-4 inches above the collection site (superficial vein that lies within the elbow pit)
  • The site is cleaned with 70% alcohol in an outward spiral, away from the zone of needle insertion
  • The needle cap is removed and is held in line with the vein, pulling the skin tight
  • With a small and quick thrust, the vein is penetrated using the needle
  • The required amount of blood sample is collected by pulling the plunger of the syringe out slowly
  • The wrap band is removed, gauze is placed on the collection site, and the needle is removed
  • The blood is immediately transferred into the blood container, which has the appropriate preservative/clot activator/anti-coagulant
  • The syringe and the needle are disposed into the appropriate “sharp container” for safe and hygienic disposal

Preparation required: No special preparation is needed prior to the test.

What is the Significance of the Bioterrorism Infectious Products Blood Test Result?

  • A positive Bioterrorism Infectious Products Blood Test value may indicate anthrax, botulism, or smallpox, which is due to intentional release as part of a terrorist act

The laboratory test results are NOT to be interpreted as results of a "stand-alone" test. The test results have to be interpreted after correlating with suitable clinical findings and additional supplemental tests/information. Your healthcare providers will explain the meaning of your tests results, based on the overall clinical scenario.

Additional and Relevant Useful Information:

  • Bioterrorism is known as the “poor man’s weapon of mass destruction”. This is because it is relatively inexpensive to obtain and weaponize susceptible microorganisms for use in a bioterrorism act

Certain medications that you may be currently taking may influence the outcome of the test. Hence, it is important to inform your healthcare provider of the complete list of medications (including any herbal supplements) you are currently taking. This will help the healthcare provider interpret your test results more accurately and avoid unnecessary chances of a misdiagnosis.

The following DoveMed website links are some useful resources for additional information:



Please visit our Laboratory Procedures Center for more physician-approved health information:


References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Oct. 30, 2015
Last updated: May 10, 2019