Following the story Wednesday of an Army laboratory in Utah inadvertently distributed live samples of anthrax to facilities in nine states and a military base in South Korea, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the following statement today:
CDC is investigating the unintentional transfer of anthrax from the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to labs in multiple states and overseas. At this time we do not suspect any risk to the general public.
The CDC investigation was started after a request for technical consultation from a private commercial lab. The lab was working as part of a DOD effort to develop a new diagnostic test to identify biological threats. Although an inactivated agent was expected, the lab reported they were able to grow live Bacillus anthracis.
CDC is working in conjunction with DoD and other federal and state partners to conduct an investigation with all the labs that received samples from the DoD. The ongoing investigation includes determining if the labs also received other live samples, epidemiologic consultation, worker safety review, laboratory analysis, and handling of laboratory waste.
All samples involved in the investigation are being securely transferred to CDC or Laboratory Response Network (LRN) laboratories for further testing. CDC has sent officials from the CDC Federal Select Agent Program to the DOD labs to conduct onsite investigations.
Updates will continue to be provided as the investigation progresses.