Dozens of CDC workers taking anti-anthrax drugs
by Marilynn Marchione, AP Chief Medical Writer
June 20, 2014 03:45 PM | 1221 views | 1 1 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
This undated file electronmicrograph from the official U.S. Department of Defense anthrax information Web Site shows Bacillus anthracis vegetative cells in a monkey spleen. Anthrax is an infectious disease caused by the spore-forming bacteria Bacillus anthracis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday, June 19, 2014, that some of its staff in Atlanta may have been accidentally exposed to dangerous anthrax bacteria because of a safety problem at some of its labs. (AP Photo/Anthrax Vaccine Immunization Program, File)
This undated file electronmicrograph from the official U.S. Department of Defense anthrax information Web Site shows Bacillus anthracis vegetative cells in a monkey spleen. Anthrax is an infectious disease caused by the spore-forming bacteria Bacillus anthracis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday, June 19, 2014, that some of its staff in Atlanta may have been accidentally exposed to dangerous anthrax bacteria because of a safety problem at some of its labs. (AP Photo/Anthrax Vaccine Immunization Program, File)
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In this Oct. 8, 2013, file photo, a sign marks the entrance to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,in Atlanta. The CDC said Thursday, June 19, 2014, that some of its staff in Atlanta may have been accidentally exposed to dangerous anthrax bacteria because of a safety problem at some of its labs. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)
In this Oct. 8, 2013, file photo, a sign marks the entrance to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,in Atlanta. The CDC said Thursday, June 19, 2014, that some of its staff in Atlanta may have been accidentally exposed to dangerous anthrax bacteria because of a safety problem at some of its labs. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)
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At least 52 workers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are taking antibiotics as a precaution because of a lab safety problem that may have accidentally exposed them to anthrax.

The federal agency on Friday raised its estimate of potentially affected workers from 75 to 86, and said the number could rise again as additional workers such as janitors and support staff come forward.

So far, the CDC's occupational health clinic has seen 54 out of 86 potentially exposed employees. Only two have refused antibiotic treatment, which can cut the chances of infection after exposure to the germ. The CDC says 27 of them also began receiving an anthrax vaccine. The others declined or are still considering the vaccine.

The safety lapse was discovered last Friday and CDC revealed it on Thursday. It occurred when a high level biosecurity lab failed to completely inactivate anthrax samples sent to three less secure labs that were researching new ways to detect the germs in environmental samples.

Workers in the less secure labs were not wearing adequate protective gear because they believed the samples had been inactivated. Procedures in two of the labs may have spread anthrax spores in the air. Anthrax is particularly dangerous when inhaled.

Live bacteria were discovered last Friday on materials gathered for disposal, and the CDC began sending emails to potentially affected employees that day, said agency spokesman Tom Skinner.

Top managers at the CDC held a staff meeting Friday morning attended by hundreds of workers, some of whom felt the agency should have communicated with them more fully, Skinner said.

"That's something that management took to heart," and CDC is making every effort to find and notify anyone who may have been exposed, he said.

Anthrax created fear in 2001, when five people died and 17 others were sickened from letters containing anthrax spores sent through the mail. The FBI blames the attacks on a lone government scientist, Bruce Ivins, who committed suicide.

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Online: CDC anthrax: http://www.cdc.gov/anthrax/

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Marilynn Marchione can be followed at http://twitter.com/MMarchioneAP



Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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June 20, 2014
Tom Skinner is always full of such crap.

CDC always worked on Anthrax in the old Bldg. 7 Lab which was only BSL-3 prior to 9/11. They never worked on it in the Level 4 Labs. All the Lab workers need to do is work under the hoods.

Maybe the real problem is that some folks would not listen to the Engineers when designing and Building the new Level 3 labs and use Stainless Steel Ducts both for intake and exhaust air.
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