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Pandora's Box

Pandora, according to Greek mythology, was the first woman, bestowed upon humankind as a punishment for Prometheus's theft of fire from the gods. Entrusted with a box containing all the ills that could plague people, Pandora opened it out of curiosity and thereby released all the evils of human life.


Atropine is an antispasmodic that relaxes smooth muscle tremors while at the same time increasing the heart rate by blocking the vagus nerve. It is also an antidote for cholinergic central nervous system [CNS] toxins.


2-PAM [pralidoxime] is also an antidote for cholinergic CNS toxins.


Valium [diazepam] is an antianxiety agent and muscle relaxant.

botulism toxin, or botulism organisms

This is a neurotoxin caused by botulinus (Clostridium botulinum), a soil bacteria that thrives in anaerobic conditions. Botulism is a type of food poisoning, sometimes fatal, usually due to ingestion of improperly canned, preserved, undercooked or spoiled foods. The toxin can be grown in a laboratory. Symptoms are vomiting, abdominal pain, difficulty of vision, central nervous system disturbances, coughing and ptosis (prolapse or drooping of any organ).


Anthrax is a disease usually transmitted to humans by contact with animals or animal products infected with Bacillus anthracis or its spores. This bacterium can infect through skin lesions or inoculation (cutaneous anthrax), through ingestion of undercooked meat (gastrointestinal anthrax), or by inhalation of dust containing anthrax spores (inhalational anthrax). Inhalational anthrax is highly fatal, causing the lungs to hemorrhage, ending in death due to asphyxia.


This is an aerobic bacterium that has a number of strains, some of which often live on human skin and are harmless. However, certain strains, especially staphylococcus aureus, can be pathogenic and produce toxins that cause food poisoning and toxic shock syndrome, among other things.

organophosphate poisoning

An organophosphate is a compound containing phosphorus bound to an organic molecule. Often used commercially as insecticides, organophosphates are highly toxic to the cholinergic central nervous system.


A poisonous substance found in the seeds of the castor-oil plant which, when inhaled, inflames the respiratory mucosa and causes the lungs and gastrointestinal tract to hemorrhage.

sarin gas

This is a lethal nerve gas of organic phosphorus compound. It is colorless, odorless and 500 times more toxic than cyanide.


A germ cell, seed or seed cell of a biological organism.

small pox

This is a highly contagious, often fatal disease caused by a virus of the genus Orthopoxvirus. Because it is now virtually extinct world-wide due to vaccination efforts, there are no animal carriers of the disease and the only source of the virus is in medical laboratories.

pneumonic plague

An acute bacterial infection caused by Yersinia pestis. It is transmitted to humans from the bite of infected fleas, especially the rat flea, or by contact with or ingestion of infected animals. Human-to-human infection usually occurs by inhalation of plague bacilli-laden droplet aerosols [from coughing]. Pneumonic plague involves the lungs extensively.

cyanide This is an extremely potent, rapid-acting poison that kills by preventing the body cells from receiving oxygen from the blood.

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