Bioterrorism is the deliberate release of viruses, bacteria, toxins or other harmful agents to cause illness or death in people, animals or plants.

The threat

The threat from bioterrorism is real, with current reports indicating that individuals, terrorist groups and criminals have both the capability and intention to use biological agents to cause harm to society.

Access to knowledge and data is also increasingly available through the Internet, and criminals use hidden and anonymous streams of communication, such as the Darknet, to buy, sell and share data and communicate with each other.

The damage caused by such an event could reach untold magnitude, causing widespread illness and death, and instilling fear and panic on a global scale.

"Bioterrorism refers to the intentional release of biological agents or toxins for the purpose of harming or killing humans, animals or plants with the intent to intimidate or coerce a government or civilian population to further political or social objectives." INTERPOL Bioterrorism incident pre-planning and response guide

Prevent, prepare, respond

The spread of an infectious or toxic biological agent can happen without warning, while the response to a biological event, whether naturally occurring, accidental or deliberate, relies on coordination across multiple sectors. Clearly, the need for structured prevention, preparedness and response strategies is critical.

INTERPOL Bioterrorism Prevention Unit aims to enable law enforcement agencies to prevent, prepare and respond to the deliberate use of bacteria, viruses or biological toxins that threaten or cause harm to humans, animals or agriculture.

As well as cooperation at the international and regional levels, we also work with national law enforcement agencies, health, academia and industry, to tackle this challenging crime and we are engaged in a number of projects and activities designed to reduce the threat of a bioterrorism act and establish effective countermeasures as part of a global security strategy.


In addition to our trifold of activities, INTERPOL Bioterrorism Prevention unit prepares and contributes to the writing of many documents, including guidelines, training videos and standard operating procedures.

INTERPOL Bioterrorism Unit

Contact the BTPU for information on publications

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