The Defense Department FedExed Anthrax To 9 States

Photo: Courtesy of CDC.
It's one thing to accidentally reply all on an email or accidentally send an embarrassing text to your mom; it's another to accidentally ship live anthrax to nine states and a military base in South Korea, which is what the Department of Defense did Thursday.

According to NPR, the anthrax originated at a lab in Utah, where scientists were researching testing methods. Anthrax is a deadly disease that was used as a biological weapon in 2001, when five people died after exposure to anthrax-laced letters. This week's shipment, which CNN reports was sent via FedEx, was supposed to be dead samples of the virus, and the Pentagon is still investigating how the mixup happened.

The states that received the shipments of the disease are California, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin. At the South Korea military base, 22 people were potentially exposed to the virus, and four people at U.S. labs worked with the samples, but the Pentagon insists that no one is in danger.
"CDC is working in conjunction with state and federal partners to conduct an investigation with all the labs that received samples from the DOD," Jason McDonald, a CDC spokesman said. "The ongoing investigation includes determining if the labs also received other live samples, epidemiologic consultation, worker safety review, laboratory analysis, and handling of laboratory waste."

Unfortunately, this mistake isn't as isolated as you might hope. Last year, the Centers for Disease Control announced it had found smallpox samples sitting in a refrigerator at a National Institutes of Health building in Maryland. 

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