The US Department of Defense (DoD) is set to launch a comprehensive review of its laboratory procedures, processes, and protocols associated with inactivating spore-forming disease, Anthrax.
Ordered by the US Defense deputy secretary Bob Work, the review will focus on finding root cause analysis for the incomplete inactivation of anthrax, DoD laboratory biohazard safety procedures and protocols, laboratory adherence to established procedures and protocols, and identification of systemic problems and the steps necessary to resolve them.
The review comes after 24 laboratories in 11 US states and two foreign countries received suspect Anthrax samples from the DoD.
In a statement, the DoD said: "There is no known risk to the general public and an extremely low risk to lab workers from the department’s inadvertent shipments of inactivated samples containing small numbers of live anthrax to several laboratories.
"We continue to work closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), who is leading the ongoing investigation pursuit to its statutory authorities.
"The Department will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates to the public."
Apart from the CDC review, all DoD laboratories will also validate materials to test all previously inactivated spore-forming anthrax in the inventory.
In addition, the DoD is advising labs that received inactive anthrax to stop working with those samples until further instruction from the US department and CDC.
After the CDC investigation is complete, Pentagon will conduct its own investigation with respect to any apparent lapses in performance and ensure appropriate accountability. Review findings are expected to be released within one month.
Unnamed defence officials were quoted by Reuters as saying a military lab at the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, accidentally sent live anthrax samples to labs in nine states, and to the Osan Air Base in South Korea.
According to the news agency, a live sample was also dispatched to Australia in 2008.
Image: Photomicrographs of a Gram stain of the Bacillus anthracis bacteria. Photo: courtesy of CDC.