Biological Weapons: CDC Categories, Definitions, and Pathogens11

CategoryCDC DefinitionPathogens
AHigh-priority agents include organisms that pose a risk to national security because they
  • can be easily disseminated or transmitted from person to person;

  • result in high mortality rates and have the potential for major public health impact;

  • might cause public panic and social disruption; and

  • require special action for public health preparedness.

Anthrax (Bacillus anthracis)
Botulism (Clostridium botulinum toxin)
Plague (Yersinia pestis)
Smallpox (variola major)
Tularemia (Francisella tularensis)
Viral hemorrhagic fevers (filoviruses [eg, Ebola, Marburg] and arenaviruses [eg, Lassa, Machupo])
BSecond-highest–priority agents include those that
  • are moderately easy to disseminate;

  • result in moderate morbidity rates and low mortality rates; and

  • require specific enhancements of the CDC's diagnostic capacity and enhanced disease surveillance.

Brucellosis (Brucella species)
Epsilon toxin of Clostridium perfringens
Food-safety threats (eg, Salmonella species, Escherichia coli O157:H7, Shigella species)
Glanders (Burkholderia mallei)
Melioidosis (Burkholderia pseudomallei)
Psittacosis (Chlamydia psittaci)
Q fever (Coxiella burnetii)
Ricin toxin from Ricinus communis (castor beans)
Staphylococcal enterotoxin B
Typhus fever (Rickettsia prowazekii)
Viral encephalitis (alphaviruses [eg, Venezuelan equine encephalitis, eastern equine encephalitis, western equine encephalitis])
Water-safety threats (eg, Vibrio cholerae, Cryptosporidium parvum)
CThird-highest–priority agents include emerging pathogens that could be engineered for mass dissemination in the future because of
  • availability;

  • ease of production and dissemination; and

  • potential for high morbidity and mortality rates and major health impact.

Emerging infectious diseases such as Nipah virus and hantavirus