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Anthrax Was Accidentally Sent To 11 States, 2 Countries, Pentagon Now Says

The Pentagon says 24 laboratories in 11 states and two foreign countriesreceived samples of live anthrax that were accidentally shipped by the Defense Department.

The numbers that were revealed today are more than the Pentagon's Thursday estimate that nine U.S. states and a U.S. Air Force base in South Korea received the samples. News organizations cited an unnamed U.S. defense official as saying Australia was the second country to which the samples were sent.

In today's statement, the Pentagon said Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work ordered a comprehensive review of the Defense Department's "laboratory procedures, processes, and protocols associated with inactivating spore-forming anthrax. There is no known risk to the general public and an extremely low risk to lab workers from the department's inadvertent shipments of inactivated samples containing small numbers of live anthrax to several laboratories."

As Bill reported Thursday, more than 20 military personnel are being monitored. He added: "The spores were supposed to have been killed by being irradiated. But at least one lab, in Maryland, reported receiving spores that were still alive."

The Defense Department is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is leading the investigation.

"The department takes this matter very seriously and is acting with urgency to address this matter and Work expects review findings within 30 days," the statement said.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Krishnadev Calamur is NPR's deputy Washington editor. In this role, he helps oversee planning of the Washington desk's news coverage. He also edits NPR's Supreme Court coverage. Previously, Calamur was an editor and staff writer at The Atlantic. This is his second stint at NPR, having previously worked on NPR's website from 2008-15. Calamur received an M.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri.