An­thrax scare


An an­thrax scare in July this year was the lat­est in a string of se­cu­rity lapses at the US Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion (CDC), the fed­eral agency charged with pre­vent- ing the spread of in­fec­tious dis­eases. Roughly 84 work­ers at CDC’s At­lanta head­quar­ters may have been ex­posed to the deadly bac­terium, Bacil­lus an­thracis, after a breach at the agency’s Bioter­ror­ism Rapid Re­sponse and Ad­vanced Tech­nol­ogy Lab­o­ra­tory, the agency said. The num­ber of work­ers be­ing mon­i­tored for an­thrax was re­vised from 75 when the lab breach was an­nounced.

At least three dif­fer­ent in­ci­dents be­tween 2007 and 2012 also called into ques­tion the CDC’s lab­o­ra­tory se­cu­rity sys­tem, which is de­signed to keep dan­ger­ous pathogens like small­pox, mon­key pox and SARS from es­cap­ing into the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion. No ill­nesses were re­ported in con­nec­tion with the in­ci­dents, all three of which in­volved mal­func­tion­ing air­flow and ven­ti­la­tion sys­tems.

The pos­ses­sion, use and trans­fer of dan­ger­ous biological se­lect agents and tox­ins, in­clud­ing Bacil­lus an­thracis, are over­seen by the Fed­eral Se­lect Agent Pro­gram, which is op­er­ated by CDC in con­junc­tion with agents from the US Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture.

The 84 work­ers in­volved in the an­thrax scare have been of­fered an­tibi­otics and vac­ci­na­tion, CDC of­fi­cials said, adding that at least 54 of the work­ers have been ex­am­ined and 27 have been vac­ci­nated. So far, none have shown signs of ill­ness, but symp­toms can take two months to ap­pear, ac­cord­ing to the agency. Left un­treated, the in­haled form of an­thrax can be deadly in 85 per cent of cases, ac­cord­ing to the CDC. Even with treat­ment, the fa­tal­ity rate is as high as 45 per cent. An­thrax is not con­ta­gious and the gen­eral pub­lic is not at risk, CDC of­fi­cials said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.