The Pentagon announced on Wednesday it had mistakenly sent as many as nine samples of live anthrax to labs across the country, and one internationally. Presumably the announcement was made sheepishly; it’s not a great look for the keeper of America’s nuclear arsenal.
A lab in Maryland is the only confirmed recipient of a batch of live samples that was shipped from a Utah army facility known for biological and chemical weapons defense testing. The samples were meant to be dead, or inactive, and were distributed to the labs as part of a broad effort to come up with a field-based test for biological agents. Samples from that shipment were then sent to labs in eight other states—California, Texas, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey, and New York—as well as a U.S. military base in South Korea. The Washington Post reports the samples may have been distributed even further to additional labs. “The samples all came from a batch of anthrax listed as AG-1,” ABC News reports. “The Pentagon has confirmed that one of the shipments contained live samples of AG-1 and suspects that the others do as well.”
Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said the Department of Defense is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and “[t]here is no known risk to the general public, and there are no suspected or confirmed cases of anthrax infection in potentially exposed lab workers.”