WASHINGTON (WJZ)–New recommendations for the handling of anthrax spores are out, following news that samples of supposedly dead bacteria shipped by a Department of Defense lab were alive.
As WJZ’s Pat Warren reports, the investigation is not over.
The Department of Defense ships anthrax spores to researchers looking for ways to detect the deadly bacteria, but they’re supposed to kill it first.
It was an unnamed Maryland private lab that alerted the DOD that it found spores alive.
Further testing shows 51 labs and counting have received live bacteria, with the Department of Defense continuing to assure that the way the samples are packaged keeps the public safe.
Officials say people have been working with this material for 10 years and no one has contracted anthrax from the material.
But Michael Greenberger of the UM Center For Health and Homeland Security calls for stricter precautions.
“This is sort of being killed by friendly fire. Our own defense department is sending these spores around in a way that means that our own government could be releasing these spores,” said Michael Greenberger.
The 2001 anthrax attack in Maryland killed five people when envelopes laced with anthrax were sent to lawmakers and news organizations through the mail.
In the wake of this recent discovery, the report calls for enhanced quality control and standard operating procedures.
“And there’s got to be a national grouping of experts to look at these issues to ensure that this research we’re doing to protect ourselves doesn’t end up attacking us,” Greenberger said.
The live spores have been traced back to a defense department lab in Utah. The DOD also has labs at Aberdeen and Ft. Detrick.