The anthrax spores which were irradiated at the US Army’s Dugway Proving Ground in Utah were not supposed to be live, and were sent to labs in at least 12 states, the District of Columbia, Australia, Canada, and South Korea.
The latest site confirmed to have received a shipment from the batch found to contain live spores was the Pentagon, although as of Tuesday, defense officials have stated that there is no indication that the particular samples they received contained live spores.
US Department of Defense (DoD) spokesperson Col. Steven Warren told Sputnik in a statement Tuesday that the DoD used the anthrax samples to develop a field-based test to "identify biological threats in the environment." However, NBC reports that the spores were shipped to Pentagon's police force, which planned to use them in testing and calibrating detection equipment for incoming mail.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reportedly suspending all shipments of anthrax as a precaution until they can determine why the irradiation process is failing.
In at least one of the cases, the spores were sent through commercial mail.
Although several batches have tested positive for live spores, the only lab to have been confirmed to receive them was in Maryland.
Anthrax infection is an acute disease that can be lethal in humans. The bacteria can survive for centuries in almost any conditions and can be transmitted via the intestines (ingestion), lungs (inhalation), or skin (cutaneous). If treated quickly, the disease does respond well to antibiotics and cannot be spread from person to person.
While four lab workers have undergone precautionary treatment, nobody has yet come down with an anthrax infection from the potentially fatal error.