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CDC investigates shipment of potentially live anthrax to Stanford lab, unlikely to pose risk

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) requested a sample from a vial of anthrax from the University early Tuesday morning, as part of the CDC’s ongoing investigation evaluating the possibility that a number of laboratories around the country may have received small amounts of the live agent, shipped by the U.S. Department of Defense.

The University, according to University spokeswoman Lisa Lapin, was informed by the CDC that the agent — which had been sent to a lab on campus in July 2014 — may not have been fully deactivated before shipment.

“Stanford University is secure, and there is absolutely no threat to the University or public,” Lapin said. She also added that the single vial, not used by the University in 10 months, has already been sent to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control for analysis.

The vial — which may have extremely small quantities of active Bacillus anthracis — is very unlikely to pose any risk, according to the CDC. To date, the CDC states there are no reports of any adverse reactions and that there is no threat to members of the public.

Upon notification from the CDC, the University launched a safety review of the laboratory where the material in question was handled by two individuals under appropriate biosafety guidelines, according to University statement released this morning. The vial was received by the lab on July 22, 2014 and last opened by the lab on July 29, 2014.

All members of the impacted lab were immediately informed of the situation, and the University is offering medical consultations for any lab employee in the affected lab who has concerns.

Stanford has not received any reports of incidents or reactions over the ten months since the material from the vial in question was last used in the laboratory, Lapin said.

The Stanford laboratory that received the at-investigation materials is studying immune system responses in order to potentially create preventative vaccines and treatments for biological threats. This research is being conducted for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“Stanford will continue to work with federal authorities as they conduct their follow up. The CDC has informed all of the impacted laboratories that risk to any individual is very unlikely and that no further action is needed,” said University statement.

 

Contact Catherine Zaw at czaw13 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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