Federal health officials say they are investigating the accidental shipment of live anthrax bacteria to labs in nine states. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms that it’s investigating the accidental shipments.
No one’s been sickened by the bacteria, which can cause potentially deadly illness although it’s easily treated with antibiotics if caught soon enough.
“CDC is investigating the possible inadvertent transfer of a select agent from the U. S. Department of Defense (DOD) to labs in nine states. At this time we do not suspect any risk to the general public,” CDC said in a statement sent to NBC News.
“At this time we do not suspect any risk to the general public.”
Department of Defense spokesman Col. Steven H. Warren told NBC News the shipments were mistakenly sent out from the U.S. Army’s Dugway Proving Ground in Utah.
“The DoD lab was working as part of a DoD effort to develop a field-based test to identify biological threats in the environment,” Warren said. “Out of an abundance of caution, DoD has stopped the shipment of this material from its labs pending completion of the investigation.”
CDC says the anthrax was being used to develop a test in case someone used the bacteria as part of a bioterror attack.
“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 said.
Live anthrax is supposed to be handled in a biosafety level 3(BSL-3) lab — one that is equipped to protect workers from the bacteria and from the spores it produces.
“CDC is working in conjunction with state and federal 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. “
It’s the second mistaken shipment of live anthrax in a year. Last June, CDC said more than 80 people may have been exposed to live anthrax when a CDC lab sent it by mistake. Lab workers thought they had inactivated the bacteria.
CDC lab procedures were overhauled after the mishap.
In 2004, a Maryland lab accidentally sent a batch of live anthrax to a children’s hospital in California.
“The lab was working as part of a DOD effort to develop a new diagnostic test to identify biological threats.”
And in 2001, five people died including two postal workers infected after anthrax spores puffed out of anthrax-filled letters as they were processed. The anthrax-laced letters made another 17 people sick. They were sent deliberately in a case that still hasn’t been fully resolved.
“All samples involved in the investigation will be securely transferred to CDC or Laboratory Response Network laboratories for further testing. CDC has sent officials from the CDC Federal Select Agent Program to the DOD labs to conduct onsite investigations.”
Anthrax can infect people in three ways — on the skin, in the digestive system or in the lungs. All three types can be dangerous but inhaled anthrax is the most deadly because once it starts causing symptoms it is often too late for antibiotics to help. And the inhaled spores can lurk in the lungs for months before they activate, so someone exposed to the spores may not know what their symptoms mean.
We begin with a sensitive nerve in Korea-Japan relations… surrounding Tokyo’s use of wartime sexual slavery.
And while many are still awaiting an official government apology… Japan may be backtracking on a quasi-statement made back in 1993.
Korea lashed out against Japan’s re-examination… which claims Seoul played a part in making the Kono Statement.
Seoul says the statement is based on Japan’s own investigations.
Hwang Sung-hee reports.
South Korea’s foreign ministry slammed Japan on Friday after the results of Tokyo’s review of its landmark apology to the so-called comfort women.
“It’s regrettable Japan ignored Seoul’s calls that a review of the Kono Statement would be meaningless and unnecessary, when it already said it would uphold the statement. But it went ahead with the re-examination.”
The Kono Statement was issued back in 1993, by then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono, and acknowledged, for the first time, the forced sexual enslavement of some 200-thousand women by the Japanese military during the Second World War.
In February, the Japanese government began re-examining how the statement was put together.
Presenting the results on Friday, Japan claimed Korea played a role in the text of the Kono Statement, and said the testimonies given by 16 Korean comfort women, which were the basis of the statement, had not been verified.
Japan went onto say Seoul and Tokyo agreed, just before the Kono Statement was announced,… to keep their dealings a secret.
In response, Korea said it had unofficially offered its opinion on the statement at Japan’s insistent request… and that the testimonies of the comfort women are still the strongest pieces of evidence.
“The testimonies of 16 surviving comfort women are clear proof of the Japanese military’s use of forced sexual enslavement, stronger than any official document.”
South Korea’s Vice Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yong is expected to address the issue when he meets with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns in Washington next week,… and express concerns that Japan’s denial of its historical wrongdoings is badly damaging regional stability.
Hwang Sung-hee Arirang News.