Anthrax is a serious infectious disease caused by bacteria known as Bacillus anthracis. Many people know about it from the 2001 bioterror attacks, when someone purposely spread anthrax through the US mail. US authorities have reported that a total of 18 laboratories may have accidentally received live samples of anthrax shipped out by the American military. But as yet, only one of the facilities, in the US state of Maryland, has confirmed to have received a live sample, the Pentagon and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
The 18 laboratories were shipped the anthrax from Dugway Proving Grounds, a Defense Department laboratory in Utah, where the samples were irradiated and supposedly rendered 'dead'. On Friday, a private firm in Maryland notified authorities that its sample was still active, setting off an urgent review of all material sent out to other laboratories. The Pentagon and the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said, "The 17 other laboratories, including one at the US Osan Air Force Base in South Korea, received samples from the same batch and are therefore likely to also be live."
Jason McDonald, a spokesman for the agency, said, "The samples are being carefully transferred to the CDC in Atlanta. They are starting to arrive, but cautioned that the samples need five more days to grow before officials can determine if they contain live anthrax. Four lab employees in the states of Texas, Delaware and Wisconsin had been put on antibiotics as a precaution."