Home / National News / US Military May Have Shipped Live Anthrax to Australia in 2008


(WASHINGTON) — A review of operations at the U.S. Army’s Dugway Proving Ground in Utah has found that another batch of live anthrax that was shipped to Australia in 2008, U.S. officials said Friday.

Like the previously reported batch, mistakenly sent over the past year to 18 laboratories in nine states and a U.S. military laboratory in South Korea, it appears that the 2008 batch of anthrax had not been fully irradiated to render it inactivated, officials said.

New testing of anthrax samples irradiated at Dugway in past years has found that a batch irradiated in 2008 still contained live spores, a U.S. official told ABC News. Most of that batch was shipped to Australia for research in that country.

Officials are trying to determine what institutions in Australia received the possibly live anthrax and its whereabouts.

Earlier this week, the Pentagon acknowledged the mistaken shipment of live anthrax possibly sent to private companies and academic institutions for research.

Last Friday, a private laboratory in Maryland informed the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that it had received a live sample of anthrax. Further investigation determined that the batch of anthrax that had been the source of the shipment had not been fully irradiated in March 2014 and contained both live and inactivated anthrax spores, according to a Department of Defense official.

The other laboratories have located their samples and sent them to the CDC for testing to determine if they too received live anthrax.

No workers who came into contact with the samples have exhibited any symptoms of anthrax infection, according to the Pentagon and the CDC.

However, as a protective measure, three lab workers in the United States and 22 military lab workers in South Korea are receiving antibiotic treatments, officials said.

The Department of Defense on Friday said it had ordered a comprehensive review of lab procedures, processes and protocols related to inactivating spore-forming anthrax. The review, ordered by Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work, comes after 24 labs in 11 states and two foreign countries — South Korea and Australia — are believed to have received potentially live samples of anthrax.

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