5 things to know on how US military sent live anthrax to labs by accident

A Utah-based Army lab accidentally recently shipped live anthrax to labs in nine states and a military base in South Korea. The following is five things to know about the event and anthrax.

1. The Army's Dugway Proving Ground lab, which is involved in a Defense Department effort to create a test to identify biological threats in the environment when out in the field, shipped anthrax that was believed to be inactivated to nine U.S. labs and one in South Korea, according to an NBC News report. Shipments from the lab in Utah have been halted in light of the discovery of the accident.

2. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, anthrax is a "serious infectious disease caused by gram-positive, rod-shaped bacteria known as Bacillus anthracis." Typically, anthrax infects people through the skin, lungs or gastrointestinal system. Anthrax can be treated with antibiotics.

3. While the Pentagon has noted that there is no suspected infection caused by the lab error, four U.S. civilians are taking steps for post-exposure prophylaxis, which can involve antibiotics or the anthrax vaccine, according to Reuters. Twenty-two people at the base in South Korea have also received precautionary medical treatment.

4. The CDC is investigating the incident to see if procedures need to change. Army Chief of Staff General Raymond Odierno told the press that the personnel working in the Utah lab seemed to have followed all procedures to inactivate the anthrax prior to shipment. "The best I can tell there was not human error," he said, according to Reuters.

5. This is not the first time a lab has accidentally shipped live anthrax: Last year, a CDC lab sent live anthrax by mistake after personnel thought they had inactivated the bacteria. More than 80 people were potentially exposed in that incident, according to NBC News. Since then, the CDC has created new lab safety measures.

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars