Pentagon’s anthrax scandal spreads

The Pentagon has learned that additional samples of live anthrax were sent to three laboratories in Canada, two Defense officials confirmed Monday evening.

That means that specimens of the deadly Bacillus anthracis have been sent to labs in 12 states, the District of Columbia and three countries. The samples came from the U.S. Army lab at Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. Scientists there thought they had been shipping inactive strains of the deadly spores for research purposes.

If inhaled, anthrax spores can be lethal even with treatment, sparking a high fever and other flu-like symptoms. Biosafety expert Richard Ebright at Rutgers University has branded the blunder “gross negligence.”

Thus far, nobody has been sickened by the inadvertent shipments, said a senior Defense Department official who has been briefed on the matter but not authorized to speak publicly. Military investigators are continuing to comb through anthrax samples and records to determine if more potentially deadly vials have been shipped, the official said, adding that more labs may have received it.

Source: USA Today