- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 2, 2015

BOSTON (AP) - A private laboratory in Marlborough was among those that received a shipment including small amounts of active anthrax spores mistakenly delivered by the U.S. Department of Defense, state health officials said Tuesday.

The samples were among several mistakenly shipped by the Army to research laboratories in the U.S. and abroad, leading more than two dozen people to get treatment for possible exposure. Contact with anthrax spores, which are particularly dangerous when inhaled, can cause severe illness or even death.

One of the samples was sent to the IQuum lab owned by Roche Molecular in Marlborough, 25 miles west of Boston, state health officials said. The sample was last handled in July 2014 and has been frozen since then, they said.

The Department of Public Health is investigating the situation in cooperation with the federal government and said the public is not at risk.

“There is no threat to public safety, and there have been no issues concerning the spores at the laboratory over the two years that the Marlborough facility stored them,” the DPH said in a written statement.

DPH officials said they’re working to transport the spores back to the federal government.

Live anthrax samples from the Army’s Dugway Proving Ground in Utah were mistakenly sent to 24 laboratories, including ones in Australia, South Korea and Canada. The anthrax was supposed to have been inactivated before being sent to the labs for research but apparently was not.

The Pentagon and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are investigating.

Anthrax-tainted letters were sent to media outlets and business offices in the fall of 2001, killing five people and sickening 17 others. The FBI concluded an Army biodefense researcher, Bruce Ivins, was the sole perpetrator. Ivins, who had denied involvement, died in 2008 of an apparently intentional Tylenol overdose as he was about to be indicted.

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