The Defense Department said Monday that its ongoing investigation has revealed that 66 labs may have received live anthrax, up from 52 last week.
Col. Steve Warren, Pentagon spokesman, said 66 labs in 19 states, the District of Columbia and three countries may have accidentally received live anthrax from a Defense Department lab.
Deputy Secretary Bob Work told reporters last week that he launched an internal investigation into why the process of irradiating the anthrax did not work in these cases and why a test to double check the anthrax was dead failed to catch these live samples.
As a result, the Defense Department is currently testing every anthrax sample in its inventory — more than 400 batches — to determine if any others are still live.
Mr. Work also said he expected the number of affected labs to continue to grow as the investigation continues.
Mr. Work promised to be transparent with the review and said the department would be posting updated numbers as the investigation continues at www.defense.gov/labreview. As of Monday at noon, however, the website had not been updated with the numbers released today by Col. Warren.
The latest state to join the list is Pennsylvania. Potentially live samples were also sent to labs in Maryland, Texas, Wisconsin, Delaware, New Jersey, Tennessee, New York, California, Virginia, Massachusetts, Utah, Washington, Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Ohio, North Carolina and the District of Columbia. Suspected live samples were also sent to South Korea, Canada and Australia.
On May 22, a civilian lab in Maryland contacted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to say that it had received live anthrax spores in a shipment that was supposed to contain only bacteria that had been killed with radiation.
The CDC contacted other labs and collected any samples suspected of being live for testing, kicking off the ongoing investigation into Defense Department anthrax samples.
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