Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

World

Dozens may have come in contact with anthrax: US military

-

As many as 22 people in South Korea and four US lab workers may have been exposed to anthrax after the American military accidentally shipped out at least one live sample, officials said.

The four lab employees were undergoing medical treatment as a precaution after the military sent the sample inside the country to a commercial lab in Maryland, US officials said Wednesday.

As many as 22 personnel may have been exposed to anthrax during a laboratory training exercise at the US Osan Air Force Base in South Korea using samples shipped from the same batch, a military statement said Thursday.

In addition to the military base in South Korea, more than a dozen other government and commercial labs in nine US states had received samples from the accidental shipment, officials said.

South Korea
South Korea
, AFP

All of the samples had been irradiated in March last year at a military lab in Utah and were supposed to be "dead."

But on Friday, a private firm in Maryland notified authorities that its sample was still active, setting off an urgent review of all material sent out to other labs, defense officials said.

Four people at three different companies that had "worked with the live anthrax" were receiving post-exposure treatment as a precaution.

- 'No risk' to public -

The Pentagon and health officials said the incident posed no threat to public health.

"There is no known risk to the general public, and there are no suspected or confirmed cases of anthrax infection in potentially exposed lab workers," Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steven Warren said in a statement.

As many as 22 people in South Korea and four US lab workers may have been exposed to anthrax after t...
As many as 22 people in South Korea and four US lab workers may have been exposed to anthrax after the American military accidentally shipped out at least one live sample, officials said
, YONHAP/AFP

The Osan Air Force Base also stressed that there was "no risk" to the public.

It said an alarm had been sounded after it was discovered that the bacteria being used in a laboratory training exercise might not have been an inert sample.

"Twenty-two personnel may have been exposed during the training event," the statement said, while adding that none had shown any exposure symptoms.

The sample was being used in a self-contained "laboratory environment" on the base.

"Hazardous material teams immediately cordoned off the facility, decontaminated it... and destroyed the agent," it said.

A sample of bacteria is analyzed.
A sample of bacteria is analyzed.
Fabian Gredillas, AFP/File

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), backed up by the Defense Department, is investigating the mishap.

The CDC said in a statement the investigation is examining if other labs had received live samples and conducting a safety review.

However precise information about what had gone wrong and how many labs might be affected remained unclear.

The Defense Department lab in Utah, Dugway Proving Grounds, routinely transfers "dead" anthrax samples for scientific research.

The lab was working on a project to detect biological threats in the field, Warren said.

US ATTACKS-ENDURING FREEDOM
US ATTACKS-ENDURING FREEDOM
, DOD/AFP

As a precaution, the Defense Department stopped such shipments pending the investigation, he said.

After the Utah lab irradiated the batch of anthrax, the material was divided into nine samples that were then sent out to labs over the course of several months.

- Past safety lapses -

One sample was shipped to an army facility in Maryland, the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center. That material was then shipped to different private labs, including the firm in Maryland that reported finding the live sample, officials told AFP.

The other labs in the United states receiving samples from the original batch were located in California, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin and Virginia.

As many as 22 personnel may have been exposed to anthrax during a laboratory training exercise at Os...
As many as 22 personnel may have been exposed to anthrax during a laboratory training exercise at Osan US Air Force Base, shown here, in South Korea, military says
Emmanuel Dunand, AFP/File

The lethal anthrax disease is spread by spores and previously was used for bioweapons programs in the United States and elsewhere. Washington scrapped its bioweapons effort as part of an international treaty, which the United States ratified in 1975.

Friday's announcement comes less than a year since health officials faced severe criticism over a spate of safety lapses at CDC labs handling deadly pathogens, including anthrax.

As a result of those lapses, health officials suspended the shipment of potentially dangerous pathogens from government labs in Atlanta and the CDC shut down two of its laboratories, including one implicated in the mishandling of anthrax samples.

Investigators from the Agriculture Department last year found anthrax was stored in unlocked refrigerators in an unrestricted corridor, and that dangerous materials were transferred using resealable plastic bags.

As many as 22 people in South Korea and four US lab workers may have been exposed to anthrax after the American military accidentally shipped out at least one live sample, officials said.

The four lab employees were undergoing medical treatment as a precaution after the military sent the sample inside the country to a commercial lab in Maryland, US officials said Wednesday.

As many as 22 personnel may have been exposed to anthrax during a laboratory training exercise at the US Osan Air Force Base in South Korea using samples shipped from the same batch, a military statement said Thursday.

In addition to the military base in South Korea, more than a dozen other government and commercial labs in nine US states had received samples from the accidental shipment, officials said.

South Korea
South Korea
, AFP

All of the samples had been irradiated in March last year at a military lab in Utah and were supposed to be “dead.”

But on Friday, a private firm in Maryland notified authorities that its sample was still active, setting off an urgent review of all material sent out to other labs, defense officials said.

Four people at three different companies that had “worked with the live anthrax” were receiving post-exposure treatment as a precaution.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

– ‘No risk’ to public –

The Pentagon and health officials said the incident posed no threat to public health.

“There is no known risk to the general public, and there are no suspected or confirmed cases of anthrax infection in potentially exposed lab workers,” Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steven Warren said in a statement.

As many as 22 people in South Korea and four US lab workers may have been exposed to anthrax after t...
As many as 22 people in South Korea and four US lab workers may have been exposed to anthrax after the American military accidentally shipped out at least one live sample, officials said
, YONHAP/AFP

The Osan Air Force Base also stressed that there was “no risk” to the public.

It said an alarm had been sounded after it was discovered that the bacteria being used in a laboratory training exercise might not have been an inert sample.

“Twenty-two personnel may have been exposed during the training event,” the statement said, while adding that none had shown any exposure symptoms.

The sample was being used in a self-contained “laboratory environment” on the base.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

“Hazardous material teams immediately cordoned off the facility, decontaminated it… and destroyed the agent,” it said.

A sample of bacteria is analyzed.
A sample of bacteria is analyzed.
Fabian Gredillas, AFP/File

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), backed up by the Defense Department, is investigating the mishap.

The CDC said in a statement the investigation is examining if other labs had received live samples and conducting a safety review.

However precise information about what had gone wrong and how many labs might be affected remained unclear.

The Defense Department lab in Utah, Dugway Proving Grounds, routinely transfers “dead” anthrax samples for scientific research.

The lab was working on a project to detect biological threats in the field, Warren said.

US ATTACKS-ENDURING FREEDOM
US ATTACKS-ENDURING FREEDOM
, DOD/AFP
Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

As a precaution, the Defense Department stopped such shipments pending the investigation, he said.

After the Utah lab irradiated the batch of anthrax, the material was divided into nine samples that were then sent out to labs over the course of several months.

– Past safety lapses –

One sample was shipped to an army facility in Maryland, the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center. That material was then shipped to different private labs, including the firm in Maryland that reported finding the live sample, officials told AFP.

The other labs in the United states receiving samples from the original batch were located in California, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin and Virginia.

As many as 22 personnel may have been exposed to anthrax during a laboratory training exercise at Os...
As many as 22 personnel may have been exposed to anthrax during a laboratory training exercise at Osan US Air Force Base, shown here, in South Korea, military says
Emmanuel Dunand, AFP/File

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

The lethal anthrax disease is spread by spores and previously was used for bioweapons programs in the United States and elsewhere. Washington scrapped its bioweapons effort as part of an international treaty, which the United States ratified in 1975.

Friday’s announcement comes less than a year since health officials faced severe criticism over a spate of safety lapses at CDC labs handling deadly pathogens, including anthrax.

As a result of those lapses, health officials suspended the shipment of potentially dangerous pathogens from government labs in Atlanta and the CDC shut down two of its laboratories, including one implicated in the mishandling of anthrax samples.

Investigators from the Agriculture Department last year found anthrax was stored in unlocked refrigerators in an unrestricted corridor, and that dangerous materials were transferred using resealable plastic bags.

You may also like:

World

Iran's ultraconservative judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi, who is widely expected to win the election, waves to supporters after voting in Terhan - Copyright AFP/File...

World

Thousands of Olympic volunteers and officials began receiving vaccines in Tokyo on Friday.

World

Indian police have summoned Twitter's top local executive over a viral video on the site of a Muslim man being assaulted.

World

The arrests of five newspaper executives was the first time articles published in Hong Kong have sparked detentions under a new security law -...