Anthrax Scare: What Happened at the CDC?

The CDC announced that approximately 75 of its staff members may have been unintentionally exposed to live Bacillus anthracis (anthrax) after established safety practices failed to be followed.

Preliminary reports show that one of the Roybal campus biosafety level 3 (BSL3) labs was preparing B. anthracis samples for research in other CDC labs at lower biosafety levels to discover new means of detecting dangerous pathogens in environmental samples. The lab, however, used a procedure that did not appropriately inactivate the B. anthracis samples. Three CDC laboratories that were not equipped to handle live B. anthracis received the samples and the workers, believing that the samples were inactivated, did not wear personal protective equipment while handling the samples. Sometime between June 6–13, procedures carried out in 2 of the 3 labs may have aerosolized the spores.The unintentional exposure was discovered on June 13 when B. anthracis colonies were discovered on the plates at the time of disposal.

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Staff that may have been exposed are currently being monitored or have been provided antibiotics. Based on the review, CDC believes that other CDC staff, family members, and the general public are not at risk of exposure and do not need to take any protective action. The CDC is continuing to review the incident and will increase safety protocols.

For more information call (888) 232-6348 or visit CDC.gov.

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