The Centers for Disease Control said today that up to 75 of its Atlanta-based workers may have been accidentally exposed to live anthrax. Reuters reports that the researchers did not take the prescribed safety measures when handling and transferring the anthrax:
The potential exposure occurred after researchers working in a high-level biosecurity laboratory at the agency's Atlanta campus failed to follow proper procedures to inactivate the bacteria. They then transferred the samples, which may have contained live bacteria, to lower-security CDC labs not equipped to handle live anthrax.
CDC spokesman Tom Skinner said that the "CDC is taking aggressive steps to protect the health of all involved, including protective courses of antibiotics for potentially exposed staff," but added that the measures were being taken "out of an abundance of caution," and that "based on most of the potential exposure scenarios, the risk of infection is very low."