At least 51 laboratories in 17 states and three foreign countries received potentially live anthrax spores from the Defense Department over the past decade, and the number is likely to grow, senior Pentagon officials said Wednesday. (June 3)
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1. Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work, Commander Franca Jones, and Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics (AT&L) walking in to speak to media
2. SOUNDBITE (English) Robert Work, Deputy Secretary of Defense:
"There are 51 laboratories in 17 states, one in the District of Columbia, and 3 foreign countries, that we believe have received suspect samples."
3. Commander Jones demonstrating how a vial is packaged for shipment
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Robert Work, Deputy Secretary of Defense:
"The department also directed the four DOD (Department of Defense) laboratories that maintain the repository for these samples, theses anthrax samples, to test every previously inactivated anthrax sample that we have to ensure that is in fact killed, and that is why the numbers may rise."
5. Commander Jones demonstrating how a vial is packaged for shipment
6. SOUNDBITE (English) Robert Work, Deputy Secretary of Defense:
"There is absolutely no indication that this was, this happened as a result of somebody deliberately doing this, at this point. Again, we will continue the investigation, but as of this point, there's absolutely nothing to indicate that this would be somebody who was trying to do this deliberately."
7. Commander Jones demonstrating how a vial is packaged for shipment
8. Tight of box that vials are shipped in
9. SOUNDBITE (English) Commander Franca Jones, Director of Medical Programs, US Department of Defense Chemical and Biological Defense Program:
"So when we talk about risk to the public, and what's happening with this box and workers who might have handled this box in the transportation chain - we believe that the risk is zero for the general public, as well as for the people who have handled this box. one milliliter of liquid is not going to come out of this box. Where we believe the risk to be potential, but extremely low, is at the initiation of the packaging or at the individual who has received it."
At least 51 laboratories in 17 states and three foreign countries received potentially live anthrax spores from the Defense Department over the past decade, and the number is likely to grow, senior Pentagon officials said Wednesday.
The scope of the problem remains unclear, but Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work told a news conference that the problem poses little risk to public health because the suspect anthrax was transported in very low concentrations.
Work said no individuals are known to have been infected with anthrax as a result of the mistaken shipments. He said the errors at the originating Army laboratory at Dugway Proving Ground in Utah were at least two-fold: a failure to fully inactivate, or kill, anthrax spores through radiation, and a failure to confirm through testing that the inactivation worked properly before packaging and shipping the samples.
As recently as last Friday the Pentagon said live samples may have been sent to 24 labs in 11 states. At a Pentagon news conference designed to quell fears over public safety, Work said the number of labs had risen to 51.
Live samples may have also been sent to three countries - Australia, South Korea, and Canada.
"This number may rise," he said, as other batches of anthrax at four Defense Department labs are tested.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is leading an investigation of the matter.
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