Dozens of Centers for Disease Control workers are on medication after an Anthrax scare at the Atlanta facility.
The CDC campus in DeKalb County houses the worst of the worst of deadly biological threats. The agency confirms safety procedures were not followed in one of the highest level labs, passing live anthrax to labs not equipped to handle it and potentially exposing at least 75 workers over seven days.
“When I first heard it, I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, this can’t really be happening,’” said Georgia Poison Center Director Gaylord Lopez.
The labs and hallways where the exposure took place have been decontaminated, but remain closed as testing continues.
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The workers potentially exposed to live anthrax are being closely monitored and treated with antibiotics. There is no fear of workers spreading anthrax to other staff, friends or family, and the public is not at risk.
Lopez said workers not wearing the right protective gear to work with live agents are in danger. In two of the three lower level labs, anthrax spores may have become airborne, where workers could have breathed them in.
“That’s really scary when you’re exposed to live spores, because it’s the spores that cause all the problems,” Lopez said.
Lopez said the first symptoms would show up in about a week and mimic the flu, but by then, Anthrax is almost always deadly.
“So, the key is early recognition, which was done here. Secondly, early treatment, because there is treatment and the sooner you get someone treatment, the better the chances for survival,” Lopez said.
The CDC issued a statement on its website:
“Given that the CDC expert protocols were not followed, disciplinary actions will be taken as necessary. In addition, the CDC will review the safety protocol again with all employees who work in this area.”