Military.com reports the U.S. Army has mistakenly sent live anthrax spores to labs in all 50 states, as well as Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.
There are also nine countries that received live anthrax from the army: Japan, United Kingdom, Korea, Australia, Canada, Italy, Germany, Norway, and Switzerland.
Before we get to how the U.S. Army accidently sent live anthrax nearly everywhere, you should know why the Defense Department decided to send anthrax spores nearly everywhere.
Our military has a 10-year program to ship anthrax to private and military labs for testing. The DOD states the anthrax research program is designed “to develop vaccines and detection devices,” including a field-testing device that could potentially be used by our troops.
Military.com reports that there have been no deaths or serious illnesses reported from the anthrax shipments, including the live spore samples; “however, at least 31 military and civilian personnel were treated with antibiotics as a precaution after a lab in Maryland discovered in May that a supposedly irradiated anthrax sample contained live spores.”
Once the Maryland incident became public in May, the number of labs and facilities that received live anthrax started to significantly expand. Probably because at first the labs thought the samples labeled “inactivated spores” were truly inactivated.
I mean, come on, the army wouldn’t have been so careless as to accidentally send live spore samples, right? The incompetence really is astounding...
On June 1, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter pledged to find out who was responsible for shipping the live anthrax and "hold them accountable."
Interesting to note: on June 1, the Pentagon reported “that live anthrax had gone to 24 labs, 11 states, and two countries,” but by June 10 that count had gone to “68 labs in 19 states and four countries.”
By July, the Pentagon was able to track down the origin of the shipments. The deadly pathogen was shipped from the Army's Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah.So if you work in a lab and you have an “inactivated” anthrax spore, check to see if it came from Utah because chances are, it’s alive!
According to the latest Pentagon count: “88 primary labs received live anthrax and shared it with 106 secondary labs for a total of 194 labs” located in all 50 states, plus U.S. territories, and nine countries.
Military.com reports that the live samples were from the Ames strain, which was the very same strain used in the 2001 Anthrax attacks:
After letters containing the [Ames strain] were sent to the offices of news media and U.S. lawmakers, five people were killed and 17 others were infected. Bruce Ivans, a government microbiologist, committed suicide after authorities were preparing to charge him in the case.
Today, a former FBI agent is suing the FBI and accusing the agency of withholding exculpatory evidence regarding Dr. Bruce Ivins—the man the bureau says is responsible for the 2001 anthrax letter attacks. Not only did the bureau allegedly make Dr. Ivins look guilty, they may have even murdered him. Watch this video for more details:
The Pentagon’s 2015 July review of the army's mistaken live anthrax shipment stated that “the low number” of live spores in the DOD samples “did not pose a risk to the general public.”
Even so, Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work is calling the live anthrax shipments a "massive institutional failure" because aside from a huge screw-up, he is anticipating even more labs will find they are compromised with live anthrax spores.
The Centers for Disease Control is currently investigating possible "secondary" shipments.
You see, once the primary labs received the live anthrax shipments, scientists could have shipped them to other labs (not realizing they were shipping live samples, of course) so that the secondary labs could do more specialized testing.
In any case, it sounds like there’s a lot of this deadly Ames strain just lying around. Wonder how much of it the Army has stockpiled and what they’re planning on using it for?
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC its affiliates, or its employees.
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