About 75 workers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may have been accidentally exposed to anthrax bacteria because of a safety problem in a lab, WSB TV reports citing an Associated Press story.
Agency officials said the staff members are being monitored or given antibiotics as a precaution against exposure to the disease-causing bacteria.
When anthrax spores get inside the body, they can be “activated,” according to the CDC website. When they become active, the bacteria can multiply, spread out in the body, produce poisons, and cause severe illness.
The problem was discovered last Friday, when live anthrax bacteria were found on some materials being gathered for disposal, the AP says.
There is no risk of exposure for other CDC staff, family members or the general public, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution says.
A statement from the agency says the exposure occurred when bacteria samples that were not completely inactivated were moved to a lower level biosafety lab not designed to handle such samples. Assuming the samples were inactive, workers didn’t wear adequate safety gear while handling them, the CDC says.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials plan to review safety protocol with all employees. Because the agency’s own protocols were not followed, disciplinary action will be taken if warranted.