Biological mutant agents are substances that change the genetic material of organisms, such as DNA, and include certain chemicals and rays, such as ultraviolet radiation, X-rays and gamma rays, along with viruses and bacteria. Many mutagenic agents cause cancer, and are dually classified as carcinogens. While mutant agents cause artificial changes in genetic codes and replication, some mutations occur naturally and are caused by spontaneous hydrolysis and errors in DNA replication, recombination and repair.
Malicious viruses and bacteria are the most common types of biological agents. Viruses act as agents by improperly reading DNA, and inserting erroneous codes into the affected genome. This, in turn, alters the correct functioning of genetic reproduction and may cause short-term or long-term health consequences. Some viruses are more virulent than others, and some cause more severe symptoms. Viruses produce different symptoms, such as flu-like conditions, fevers, and gastrointestinal issues. In addition to viruses, bacteria also act as biological agents. Bacteria, like viruses, vary in duration and the type and degree of harm they cause to affected organisms. Bacteria generally damage vulnerable DNA strands, which in turn reduces the efficiency of DNA repair systems. Reduced or impaired repairs, in turn, increases the risk of mutation. Some minerals, vitamins and antibiotics provide some protection against the development and spread of mutagens within and between organisms