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Department of Defense mistakenly ships live anthrax to labs across country

By Danielle Haynes
Department of Defense mistakenly ships live anthrax to labs across country
Under a high magnification of 12,483X, this scanning electron micrograph (SEM) depicted spores from the Sterne strain of Bacillus anthracis bacteria, or anthrax. Image courtesy CDC

WASHINGTON, May 27 (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of Defense mistakenly sent live samples of Anthrax to labs in nine states.

The samples were inadvertently sent from a Defense laboratory in Utah to commercial labs in California, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.

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One of the labs confirmed it received live anthrax and it's believed the others might have as well.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was investigating the incident and testing each sample, all of which are believed to be secured. No one has been sickened by the deadly bacteria, which can be treated with antibiotics.

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"CDC is investigating the possible inadvertent transfer of a select agent from the U. S. Department of Defense to labs in nine states. At this time we do not suspect any risk to the general public," the CDC said in a statement to NBC News. "At this time we do not suspect any risk to the general public."

"CDC is working in conjunction with state and federal partners to conduct an investigation with all the labs that received samples from the DOD. The ongoing investigation includes determining if the labs also received other live samples, epidemiologic consultation, worker safety review, laboratory analysis, and handling of laboratory waste," the CDC statement said.

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The anthrax samples were supposed to be dead or inactive. Defense spokesman Col. Steven Warren said his department is working in conjunction with the CDC and has stopped the shipment of all anthrax samples.

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"The DOD lab was working as part of a DOD effort to develop a field-based test to identify biological threats in the environment," Warren said.

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