From the office of U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski:
MIKULSKI CALLS ON DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE AND CDC TO INVESTIGATE ACCIDENTAL SHIPMENT OF LIVE ANTHRAX
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) today called on Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, Director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to investigate the recent event in which live anthrax samples were sent from Dugway Proving Ground to private and government laboratories, including the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.
Senator Mikulski’s letter follows:
May 28, 2015
The Honorable Ashton Carter
Secretary of Defense
U.S. Department of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon, Room 3E880
Washington, DC 20301-1000
Dr. Thomas R. Frieden
Center for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Road NE, Room 5127
Atlanta, GA 30333
Dear Secretary Carter and Dr. Frieden,
I am writing to express my grave concern in wake of the recent news that live anthrax samples were sent from Dugway Proving Ground in Utah to private and government laboratories in nine different states, including the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, and a laboratory at Osan Air Base in South Korea. I am aware that both the DoD and CDC are investigating this incident, but I have serious concerns about how such a potentially catastrophic mistake could have been made.
What safety protocols does the military currently have in place for handling highly sensitive and dangerous viable samples like samples of B. anthracis? Additionally, what is the protocol for determining viable from inactive samples? Given the gravity of this matter, and the possible public health implications, I’m sure I share your concerns in wanting to isolate the effects of this incident. Can you confirm that these shipments were the only shipments containing a live sample of the anthrax bacteria?
I am also very concerned for the health of the individuals who came into contact with these samples, including the workers in the laboratories, as well as the individuals who handled these samples during shipment. Have all possible individuals who could have come into contact with these samples been identified? What steps have been taken to ensure their safety? In addition, what is the worker safety protocol for DoD, CDC, and lab employees who might have come into contact with these samples? I’m also interested in knowing what steps are being taken to proactively reach out to potentially impacted communities to make sure that first responders and local health agencies have the information they need to recognize the symptoms of anthrax exposure? I urge you to provide all individuals who may have come in contact with viable B. anthracis, including those who were advised to take antibiotics for anthrax post-exposure prophylaxis, the information and support that they need.
As these investigations progress, I would appreciate receiving updates on significant findings as well as the results of your investigations once concluded, and the actions you will take to mitigate the risk of these incidents happening again. Thank you for your attention to this important public health issue, and I look forward to your response.
Barbara A. Mikulski
United States Senator