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CDC Says More Workers Potentially Exposed To Live Anthrax

U.S. authorities increased to 86 people the number of CDC workers potentially exposed to live anthrax at three laboratories in Atlanta, with at least 52 of them taking antibiotics as a precaution.

The number who may have been infected is an increase from the 75 workers that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledged on Thursday.

The Associated Press says:

"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."

Reuters reports that the CDC has said it will cede an investigation into the safety lapse to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to avoid a potential conflict of interest.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.
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