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Anthrax Scare Spreads to Canada, Washington State


FILE - Microbiologist Ruth Bryan works with BG nerve agent simulant in Class III Glove Box in the Life Sciences Test Facility at Dugway Proving Ground, Utah, May 11, 2003.

FILE - Microbiologist Ruth Bryan works with BG nerve agent simulant in Class III Glove Box in the Life Sciences Test Facility at Dugway Proving Ground, Utah, May 11, 2003.

The Pentagon says a U.S. military lab might mistakenly have sent live anthrax - or anthrax with activated spores - to labs in Canada and Washington state, in addition to the labs announced last week.

“The anthrax that we shipped, the master sample that it came from, which is in Dugway (Proving Ground in Utah), tested to be live yesterday,” Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren told reporters Tuesday.

The Canadians cannot yet confirm whether the anthrax they received from the Utah lab is live because the testing process takes multiple days to complete.

More than 20 labs received anthrax shipments from the Pentagon. They are in 12 U.S. states and three foreign countries. In addition to Canada, Australia and the Republic of Korea also received anthrax shipments with potentially live anthrax.

The other U.S. states that received shipments include California, Texas, Utah, Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, New Jersey, New York and Delaware.

Of these, only Maryland has confirmed the anthrax received contained activated spores that had not been thoroughly deactivated, as they should have been, using the proper radiation procedures.

Warren said all the investigations by the Pentagon and the Centers for Disease Control have led officials to conclude “there is no risk to the public at this point.”

A Pentagon briefing on the subject is expected on Wednesday.

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    Carla Babb

    Carla is VOA's Pentagon correspondent covering defense and international security issues. Her datelines include Ukraine, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Korea.

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