Oops: US military accidentally ships out anthrax

A military base in Utah mistakenly sent live anthrax to laboratories in nine states and one to a US base in South Korea. Although meant to be shipped in an inactive state, the anthrax was to be used for the development of field tests that detect biological threats.

The Pentagon said there was no known suspected infection or risk to the public. But four U.S. civilians have been started on preventive measures called post-exposure prophylaxis, which usually includes the anthrax vaccine, antibiotics or both.

The four face “minimal” risk, said Jason McDonald, a spokesman for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has begun an investigation of the incident. The four were “doing procedures that sent the agent into the air,” he said.