The Department of Defense (DOD) has admitted that live anthrax samples were accidentally sent to 19 laboratories in nine states and South Korea, and that at least 26 individuals are receiving antibiotics due to potential exposure. A DOD spokesperson stated that the shipments were from the U.S. Army’s Dugway Proving Ground in Utah and were part of a DOD effort to develop a new diagnostic test for biological threats. The bacteria was intended to be inactivated, but one lab discovered that the microbes were live Bacillus anthracis.
Although no one exposed to the samples is showing signs of infection, antibiotics have been administered to at least 26 lab workers at the civilian facility where the samples were discovered and military and civilian contractors at the Osan Air Base in South Korea. Regulations require that live anthrax only be handled under biosafety level 3 (BSL-3) conditions and shipped in special packaging with warning labels; in June of 2014, over 80 individuals were potentially exposed to live anthrax when a CDC lab accidentally shipped what was believed to be inactivated bacteria. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has looked into the matter and has found no evidence of foul play or intentional contamination.
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