The Defense Department (DoD) accidentally sent live anthrax to labs in at least nine states and South Korea, and is working with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to contain it, the Pentagon said.
The labs were in Texas, Maryland, Wisconsin, Delaware, New Jersey, Tennessee, New York, California and Virginia. The samples departed a DoD lab in Dugway, Utah, and crossed innumerable other states enroute to the destination labs. The shipping method was not specified, leading to concerns transit facilities enroute may also have been under risk.
A sample was also sent overseas to Osan Air Base in South Korea.
Worse yet, the number of affected labs could grow, since the original labs had already passed on some of their anthrax sample to other facilities.
“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,” a Pentagon spokesperson said. It is unclear whether anyone was exposed to the live sample, or whether anyone has been quarantined for treatment.
A Defense Department official said on background that the anthrax sample was prepared at the Dugway Army facility as part of routine research, then sent to the laboratories. All of the samples were supposed to be dead or inactive.
A lab in Maryland first notified the Pentagon on May 22 in the late evening that it had received a live sample. The Pentagon then informed the CDC on May 23.
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