— The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said
Wednesday it is investigating what the Pentagon called an
inadvertent shipment of live anthrax spores to government
and commercial laboratories in as many as nine states, as
well as one overseas, that expected to receive dead spores.
this time we do not suspect any risk to the general
public," CDC spokeswoman Kathy Harben said.
spokesman, Col. Steve Warren, said the suspected live
anthrax samples were shipped from Dugway Proving Ground, an
Army facility in Utah, using a commercial delivery service.
the government has confirmed one recipient, a laboratory in
Maryland, received live spores. It is suspected, but not yet
confirmed, that anthrax sent to labs in as many as eight
other states also contained live spores, he said. Later he
said an anthrax sample from the same batch at Dugway also
was sent to a U.S. military laboratory at Osan air base in
South Korea; no personnel there have shown signs of
exposure, he said, and the sample was destroyed.
is no known risk to the general public, and there are no
suspected or confirmed cases of anthrax infection in
potentially exposed lab workers," Warren said.
official said Wednesday evening that four people in three
commercial labs had worked with the suspect anthrax samples
and the CDC has recommended the four be provided
"post-exposure prophylaxis," or preventive
treatment. The official was not authorized to discuss the
details because they involved non-government lab employees,
and so spoke on condition of anonymity.
samples were shipped from Dugway to government and
commercial labs in Texas, Maryland, Wisconsin, Delaware, New
Jersey, Tennessee, New York, California and Virginia.
Department, acting "out of an abundance of
caution," has halted "the shipment of this
material from its labs pending completion of the
investigation," Warren said.
with anthrax spores can cause severe illness.
one of the laboratories contacted the CDC to request
"technical consultation." It was working as part
of a Pentagon effort to develop a new diagnostic test to
identify biological threats, she said.
an inactivated agent was expected, the lab reported they
were able to grow live Bacillus anthracis," she said,
referring to the bacteria that cause anthrax disease.
The CDC is
working with state and federal agencies on an investigation
with the labs that received samples from the Defense
Department, she said.
all samples involved in the investigation will be securely
transferred to the CDC or other laboratories for further