Four workers in a lab in the U.S. and as many as 22 overseas were put in a post-exposure treatment program after they were inadvertently shipped live anthrax by the U.S. Military. The anthrax samples were sent to six states in April, an official from the Department of the Defense said on Wednesday.
The sample of anthrax were shipped by FedEx to seven different companies in six states April 29 said an official in defense. The shipments were shipped with less rigorous conditions as they were thought to be dead samples. The protocol for live agent anthrax is much stricter.
A lab based in Maryland received the live samples prompting an urgent review of all shipments to see if any others had been shipped.
Officials are worried because the samples that were left over at a Dugway, Utah lab where the samples had originated had been tested and determined to be a live agent.
Science experts had told the Department of Defense that there was not a risk to the public by shipping on the containers they were sent in.
However, four workers in the nine states that accepted the shipments were put in the post-exposure treatment program, because they had handled the samples.
A spokesperson for the Pentagon said one of the anthrax samples was sent to an American air base in South Korea, but authorities there destroyed it using the appropriate protocols.
As many as 22 people in the training lab were exposed, said a statement from the military base. Five active duty members of the Air Force, 10 Army members, three officials who are civilians and four contractors were being given preventative treatment back in South Korea, said an official in defense.
Samples must be rendered dead prior to them being shipped under a routine research program. Commercial, military and government labs that might have received a sample were now reviewing their anthrax inventories.
The Center for Disease Control is also investigating with the Defense Department saying that they do not believe there is any risk to members of the public.