Anthrax Scare at the CDC

More than 80 scientists working at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, GA may have been exposed to an airborne anthrax bacteria—and the numbers could continue to grow.  

According to the CDC, a lab failed to properly inactivate the virus from samples. A week went by and workers in the lab noticed one of the dishes contained live anthrax.  By this time the samples had already been sent to several other labs, potentially putting even more people at risk.

This is not the first time the CDC has had to deal with a situation involving anthrax. In 2001, 22 people were infected and  five people died, including two postal workers, after anthrax spores were found on mail letters. In all, 10,000 people were given antibiotics to prevent the infection.

An investigation and review into exactly what happened is underway, but experts say they doubt any of the CDC workers are in any danger. All of the individuals believed to be exposed will receive vaccines and antibiotics.

Anthrax mostly affects animals, but in humans it can cause skin infections, problems with the gastrointestinal tract if swallowed, or lung infections if it is inhaled. The lung infection is the worst kind because the bacteria releases spores that can stay in the body more than 60 days before they are activated and release a toxin that can be lethal. 

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