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CDC Says Dozens Of Workers Could Have Been Exposed To Anthrax

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta says that as many as 75 of its workers may have been accidentally exposed to live anthrax bacteria this month because of a safety problem at one of its labs.

Member station WABE's Michell Eloy reports from Atlanta that the CDC says the possible exposure "occurred after researchers at a high-security lab failed to follow the correct procedure to deactivate the bacteria."

The problem was discovered last Friday, and some of the anthrax may have become airborne in two labs as workers were transferring samples of potentially live anthrax to three lower-security labs that weren't equipped to handle live strains.

In a statement, the CDC says it's taking "aggressive steps to protect the health of all involved."

Officials say the risk of infection is low but that affected staff are being monitored and given antibiotics out of an abundance of caution. They say there's no public risk of exposure.

"We're aware of it and working with CDC," FBI spokesman Paul Bresson said in an email. "Nothing leads us to believe it's anything criminal at this point."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.