- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 28, 2015

Fifteen of the 22 personnel potentially exposed to live anthrax in South Korea were active-duty troops, the Pentagon said Thursday, just one day after the military admitted that it mistakenly sent at least one live anthrax sample to a civilian lab.

Col. Steve Warren, Pentagon spokesman, said five airmen, 10 soldiers, three government civilians and four contractors at Osan Air Base in South Korea are taking the antibiotic Cipro as a precautionary measure for anthrax exposure, though none have shown symptoms of infection.

The Pentagon said Wednesday that a large sample of anthrax was irradiated at Dugway Proving Grounds, Utah, and sent to civilian and government labs in nine states and South Korea. While the treatment was meant to render the anthrax inactive, a civilian lab in Maryland found that its sample was still live and notified the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday.

The CDC then told other labs that it would be collecting the samples and testing them to determine if all were shipped alive. The Defense Department is taking precautions as if all samples are live while a CDC investigation into the incident is ongoing, Col. Warren said.

When asked why the accident wasn’t made public until Wednesday when the government was alerted on Friday, Col. Warren said the department took the time to get a “complete picture” of what happened once it determined there was no threat to the general population.

He also said he is “very confident” that the packaging of the live anthrax was in line with guidelines and posed no threat to the public, but couldn’t yet say how the samples were shipped.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno said he was “99.9 percent” sure no one was harmed by the accident and that all procedures were followed.

“Best I can tell, there was not human error,” he said at a Defense Writers Group breakfast on Thursday, The Hill reported.

Gen. Odierno also said the CDC would look at if current guidelines needed to be changed to prevent another incident in the future.

Anthrax from this sample was also sent to labs in Texas, Wisconsin, Delaware, New Jersey, Tennessee, New York, California and Virginia.


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