Aerobiology and inhalation exposure to biological select agents and toxins

Vet Pathol. 2010 Sep;47(5):779-89. doi: 10.1177/0300985810378650. Epub 2010 Aug 3.


Aerosol is the most likely route of dissemination of biological select agents and toxins in a bioterrorist attack, regardless of the natural route of exposure to the agent. The use of animal models for testing preventative and therapeutic countermeasures requires knowledge of the pathogenesis of disease after inhalation exposure. Factors that relate to outcome after respiratory exposure include the inherent infectivity and virulence and/or toxicity of the agent in the host under investigation, in addition to characteristics of the aerosol particle and host that affect the delivered dose of, and host response to, the inhaled material. This introductory article discusses the emerging science of aerobiology and the unique features of respiratory tract anatomy, physiology, and immunology that are relevant to the pathogenesis of aerosolized biothreat agents.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Warfare Agents*
  • Humans
  • Inhalation Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Models, Animal
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / drug therapy
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / microbiology*
  • Toxins, Biological / metabolism*
  • Toxins, Biological / toxicity


  • Biological Warfare Agents
  • Toxins, Biological