Laboratories across the United States have received live anthrax samples from a military base in Utah. According to latest reports, the samples have been sent to as a many as 51 labs in 17 US states including Ohio, three foreign countries and the District of Columbia. The above-mentioned numbers are much more than what was disclosed previously and the Pentagon is saying that there can be a further rise following additional investigations.
According to Pentagon officials, right now, investigators are trying to find out whether this inadvertent shipment of the anthrax samples has resulted from quality control issues at the Dugway Proving Ground. For those who don’t know: the Dugway Proving Ground is a facility in Utah where experts test US and allied chemical and biological weapons; live anthrax samples, due to their deadly features, can be used as biological weapons.
The good news is that to date not a single person working in the labs has been infected. Also, the officials also informed that the common people are also not at any kind of risk.
The past decade has witnessed several similar incidents, during which, the US military facilities have shipped anthrax samples that were supposed to be killed or deactivated to outside laboratories in order to encourage formation of countermeasures for biological weapons. The recent incident in Utah is different as it is the first time a military base has ended up sending live samples to laboratories; all samples were found to possess live spores.
According to Pentagon officials, they are expecting to see a further rise in the number of laboratories receiving those live samples. In addition, they are also expecting that soon reports will surface revealing that this shipment by the Utah military base is not the only one to contain live anthrax samples.
Bob Work, the Deputy Defense Secretary, said that right now nothing is indicating that this chaos has been created by someone deliberately. Work added that the spore concentration of the liquid anthrax samples is too low for infecting any healthy individual. Before being in the news this week, anthrax hit the headlines last week when the Pentagon announced that its representatives will be reviewing procedures of killing live anthrax using the gamma-ray irradiation method.