PALO ALTO (CBS SF) — A vial shipment sent to a Stanford lab last July may have contained small quantities of live anthrax spores, but officials say there is no threat to public safety.
The single vial, untouched over the last 10 months, was sent to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control for analysis this week, according to a Stanford spokeswoman Lisa Lapin.
Lapin said Stanford received notice early Tuesday that the CDC was investigating the possibility that a number of U.S. government and commercial laboratories in the U.S. and in South Korea may have received small amounts of an active select agent shipped by the U.S. Department of Defense.
The Army’s top general said Thursday that human error was probably was not a factor in the Army’s mistaken shipment of the live samples.
Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff, told reporters the problem may have been a failure in the technical process of killing, or inactivating, anthrax samples. The process in this case “might not have completely killed” the samples as intended before they were shipped, he said.
The Pentagon disclosed on Wednesday that at least one of nine labs in the U.S. that received anthrax from Dugway Proving Ground, the Army installation in Utah, got live rather than dead bacteria. It has not identified any of the U.S. laboratories by name but said they are in nine states: Texas, Maryland, Wisconsin, Delaware, New Jersey, Tennessee, New York, California and Virginia.
The laboratory at the Stanford School of Medicine received one of the lots being investigated.
“The CDC has advised the university that the material is very unlikely to pose any risk,” Lapin said. “However, the university has taken all necessary precautions to assure the safety of our students and employees.”
Stanford secured the vial for shipping to the CDC for evaluation to determine whether or not the material was not completely inactivated.
Stanford has not received any reports of incidents or reactions over the ten months since the material was last used in the laboratory.
The Stanford laboratory that received the materials is studying immune system responses for potential creation of preventive vaccines and treatments for biological threats. The research is being conducted for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Lapin said Stanford will continue to work with federal authorities as they conduct their follow up.
TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten. The Associated Press contributed to this report.