1 of Pentagon's own labs may have received suspect anthrax

Pentagon May Have Received Live Anthrax Shipment

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A laboratory on the grounds of the Pentagon compound is among dozens of facilities that may have mistakenly received live anthrax, officials said Tuesday.

Officials suggested the Pentagon lab case may have happened several years ago, although the timing was unclear. Some labs around the country and in South Korea mistakenly received the suspect anthrax in recent months.

A comprehensive investigation has been under way since last week.

The Pentagon has struggled to keep up with the expanding scope of its investigation into where the potentially live anthrax was sent after it mistakenly left the Army's Dugway Proving Ground in Utah and why it was not detected earlier. A key question is why some portion of Dugway's anthrax samples were not rendered inactive, or dead, before sending them to research labs.

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1 of Pentagon's own labs may have received suspect anthrax
ARLINGTON, VA - JUNE 03: Director of Medical Programs for DoD Chemical and Biological Defense Cdr. Franca Jones demonstrates the protocol for shipping anthrax sample during a news briefing on the DoD Lab Review and Anthrax shipment investigation June 3, 2015 at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. The Pentagon announced today the Defense Department may have accidentally shipped live anthrax samples out to at least 51 labs in 17 states, the District of Columbia and three foreign countries. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, VA - JUNE 03: Director of Medical Programs for DoD Chemical and Biological Defense Cdr. Franca Jones demonstrates the protocol for shipping anthrax sample as Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall looks on during a news briefing on the DoD Lab Review and Anthrax shipment investigation June 3, 2015 at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. The Pentagon announced today the Defense Department may have accidentally shipped live anthrax samples out to at least 51 labs in 17 states, the District of Columbia and three foreign countries. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
This image depicted numbers of Bacillus anthracis bacterial colonies, which had been allowed to grow on sheep's blood agar, SBA, for a 24 hour period. Note the classical appearance exhibited in the colonial morphology including a ground-glass, non-pigment. (Photo via Getty)
SLUG:NA/ANTHRAX DATE:10/16/08 QUANTICO, VA CREDIT: DOMINIC BRACCO II From left, forensic examiner Jason Bannan Ph.D., supervisory special agent Scott Decker, and supervisory special agent Matthew Feinberg, pose for a portrait on Oct. 16, 2008 at a lab in Quantico, VA. The three helped solve the anthrax investigation. (Photo by Dominic Bracco Ii/The Washington Post/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - May 6: Amir Ettehadieh, Director of Research and Development at Universal Detection Technology, walks past the prototype anthrax-detection device unveiled May 6, 2004 in Los Angeles, California. Universal Detection Technology's Anthrax Smoke Detector monitors the overall level of spores in the air. A sudden spike in the level would indicate a release of spores such as would occur during in a biological terror attack. Instant anthrax exposure detection could save lives by giving patients time to take Cipro before the end of the four-day incubation period. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
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Earlier Tuesday, the Pentagon said it determined that possibly live anthrax was mistakenly sent to labs in Canada and Washington state, in addition to the numerous labs in the U.S. and abroad that were announced last week.

A Pentagon spokesman, Col. Steve Warren, said Canadian and Washington state authorities have been notified.

Patrick Gaebel, a spokesman for Health Canada, said Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, Manitoba, was told by the Pentagon that a test kit sent there in 2006 could possibly contain live anthrax bacterium. Gaebel said the kit was intended for the lab to validate its anthrax detection system. He said they've located the testing kit and have confirmed it has not been used for over five years.

"There is very low risk of illness and there have been no reports of illness among the staff," Gaebel said.

Donn Moyer, a spokesman with the Washington state Department of Health, said the anthrax was sent to InBios, a private lab in Seattle. Moyer said it was not opened and there was no exposure.

Another U.S. defense official said the suspect anthrax may also have been received at a lab on the grounds of the Pentagon, although not inside the building. The Pentagon Force Protection Agency uses inactivated anthrax to calibrate biological threat sensors, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss Pentagon security. The officials said it was unclear how recently the Pentagon agency received the suspect samples.

The anthrax was supposed to have been inactivated before being sent to labs across the U.S. for research but apparently was not.

Massachusetts state health officials said Tuesday that a private lab called IQuum, owned by Roche Molecular in Marlborough, Mass., received small amounts of active anthrax spores mistakenly delivered by the Defense Department. The sample was last handled at IQuum in July 2014 and has been frozen since then, state health officials said.

The Pentagon and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are investigating the scope and details of the anthrax shipments.

Warren said there is no known risk to public health.

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