The problem of unintended shipments of potentially live anthrax spores over the last 10 years is much more critical than assumed, officials said on Wednesday.
According to the officials it is possible for the shipments to be sent to more than 4 dozen laboratories in the U.S. and abroad which is around twice the estimate of last week.
The officials spoke on condition of being an anonymous source since they were not allowed to discuss specifics by name.
The pentagon has asserted time and again that the mistakes were not a health hazard to the public. The CDC (Centers For Disease Control and Prevention) is leading an investigation on the matter.
The insight on the extent of the issue are expected to be presented at a news conference Wednesday by Robert Work, who is the deputy defense secretary. Last Friday Work ordered a comprehensive review of the procedures in lab linked with inactivating or killing live anthrax for shipment to labs for research and other purpose which includes calibration of biological threat sensors similar to the ones used by a number of federal government agencies, including the pentagon.
The scope of the problem has grown almost daily since the Pentagon first acknowledged it publicly last Wednesday.
The initial focus was on the procedures used at an Army lab at Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, which sent live samples of anthrax that it believed were killed through the use of radiation. It is not yet clear why the well-established procedures for killing the spores did not seem to work, at least with some batches of bacteria.
Among the government labs identified in recent days as having received the suspect anthrax were the Army’s Edgewood Chemical Biological Center in Maryland and the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Virginia, as well as a lab on the grounds of the Pentagon.
Officials said that the Edgewood lab sent some of the samples it had received from Dugway to other labs in the U.S.