The Pentagon announced Wednesday that samples of live anthrax were shipped to private research facilities in nine states as well as South Korea.
“The Department of Defense is collaborating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in their investigation of the inadvertent transfer of samples containing live Bacillus anthracis, also known as anthrax, from a DoD lab in Dugway, Utah, to labs in nine states,” Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said, according to ABC News.
The announcement did not include information about when the release occurred, but CNN reported it was in the past several days.
“There is no known risk to the general public, and there are no suspected or confirmed cases of anthrax infection in potentially exposed lab workers. The DoD lab was working as part of a DoD effort to develop a field-based test to identify biological threats in the environment. Out of an abundance of caution, DoD has stopped the shipment of this material from its labs pending completion of the investigation,” Warren continued.
“One sample of Anthrax was also sent to the Joint United States Forces Korea (USFK) Portal and Integrated Threat Recognition Program at Osan Air Base,” Warren said. “There is no known risk to the general public, and no personnel have shown any signs of possible exposure. The sample was destroyed in accordance with appropriate protocols.”
NBC news reported the samples — thought to be dead — were delivered by FedEx to California, Texas, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey and New York, after first being shipped from the Utah facility to a military laboratory in Maryland.
It wasn’t the samples were shipped to the other facilities that the Maryland military laboratory discovered that the samples were live, prompting an FBI team to track the shipments and a CDC team to determine how the mixup occurred.
“At least 18 labs in nine states received sample kits containing 23 marked specimens and 2 controls,” CDC spokesman Jason McDonald said, according to ABC News.
“One of the controls was labeled ‘antigen 1.’ It was this vial that tested positive in one lab in Maryland. State health departments have done risk assessments and Maryland offered antibiotics to four lab workers due to possible exposure. Three of the four workers decided to take the antibiotics.”
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