ARIZONA NEWS

Arizona lab among accidental recipients of possible live anthrax

Jun 3, 2015, 1:40 PM | Updated: 3:37 pm

...

WASHINGTON — At least 51 laboratories in 17 states, including Arizona, and three foreign countries received potentially live anthrax spores from the Defense Department over the past decade, and the number is likely to grow, Pentagon officials said Wednesday.

Jeanene Fowler with the Maricopa County Department of Public Health said the anthrax was sent to a Scottsdale lab in 2006. That lab has since closed.

The sample is longer in Arizona and no one is at risk.

“When they send something like anthrax to a laboratory to study, they deactivate the bacteria so it is no longer infectious,” Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine, Medical Director for Disease Control, said. “In this case the bacteria wasn’t fully inactivated and it was only partially inactivated. Which means it still has a low level of infectiousness.”

The scope of the national problem remains unclear, but Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work told a news conference that the problem poses little risk to public health because the suspect anthrax was transported in very low concentrations.

Work said no individuals are known to have been infected with anthrax as a result of the mistaken shipments. He said the errors at the originating Army laboratory at Dugway Proving Ground in Utah were at least two-fold: a failure to fully inactivate, or kill, anthrax spores through radiation, and a failure to confirm through testing that the inactivation worked properly before packaging and shipping the samples.

As recently as last Friday the Pentagon said live samples may have been sent to 24 labs in 11 states. On Wednesday, Work said the number of labs had risen to 51.

The department’s website listed the states, but not the labs.

“This number may rise,” Work said, as other batches of anthrax at four Defense Department labs are tested.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is leading an investigation of the matter.

Last Friday, Work ordered a comprehensive review of laboratory procedures associated with killing live anthrax for shipment to labs for research and other purposes, including for calibrating biological threat sensors such as those used by a number of federal government agencies, including the Pentagon.

The scope of the problem has grown almost daily since the Pentagon first acknowledged it publicly May 27.

Among the government labs identified in recent days as having received the suspect anthrax were the Army’s Edgewood Chemical Biological Center in Maryland and the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Virginia, as well as a lab on the grounds of the Pentagon.

Officials said that the Edgewood lab sent some of the samples it had received from Dugway to other labs in the U.S.

On Tuesday, the Pentagon said potentially live anthrax samples had been mistakenly sent to labs in California, Virginia, Texas, Tennessee, Utah, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Delaware and Washington state. Also receiving suspect samples were labs in Australia, Canada and South Korea.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Sunday told reporters while traveling in Asia that the mistaken shipments were an “unfortunate incident.” He said the Pentagon will make “sure that any public health consequences of this are avoided” and ensure that it never happens again.

The CDC has said four people at labs in Delaware, Texas and Wisconsin were recommended to get antibiotics as a precaution, although they were not sick. U.S. officials at Osan Air Base in South Korea said 22 people were being treated for possible exposure there after word surfaced that an Osan lab was among the facilities that received suspect anthrax.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

The U.S. Supreme Court is seen, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024, in Washington. The U.S. Supreme Court has h...

Associated Press

Supreme Court decision on Trump’s election status could come Monday morning

A SCOTUS decision could come Monday in the case about whether Trump can be kicked off the ballot over his efforts to undo his 2020 defeat.

40 minutes ago

Republican presidential candidate former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley poses for a selfie after speakin...

Associated Press

Nikki Haley wins D.C. Republican primary, her first 2024 victory

Nikki Haley has won the Republican primary in the District of Columbia, notching her first victory of the 2024 campaign.

1 hour ago

FILE - A voting sign is seen near a voting center at Croft Baptist Church, Feb. 24, 2024, in Sparta...

Associated Press

A chunk of Republican primary and caucus voters say they wouldn’t vote for Trump as the GOP nominee

About 1 in 10 early contest voters who said they supported Trump in the 2020 general election said they wouldn’t be doing so this year.

4 hours ago

An Apache group that has fought to protect land it considers sacred from a copper mining project in...

Associated Press

A US appeals court ruling could allow mine development in central Arizona on land sacred to Apaches

An Apache group that has fought to protect land from a copper mining project in central Arizona suffered a significant blow.

6 hours ago

A Phoenix Police SUV with lights on at a crime scene at night...

KTAR.com

Phoenix police arrest 2 suspects linked to home burglary

Phoenix law enforcement arrested two suspects after a break-in on Saturday evening near 43rd Avenue and Northern Avenue.

9 hours ago

File photo of crime scene tape in Phoenix...

David Veenstra

Police investigating fatal hit-and-run collision in north Phoenix

Police are investigating a fatal hit-and-run collision that killed a female pedestrian in north Phoenix on Saturday.

11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

Arizona lab among accidental recipients of possible live anthrax