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News From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
May 8, 2002

Suspected Cutaneous Anthrax in a Laboratory Worker—Texas, 2002

JAMA. 2002;287(18):2356-2358. doi:10.1001/jama.287.18.2356-JWR0508-2-1

MMWR. 2002;51:279-281

1 figure omitted

On March 6, 2002, CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) received a request for a health hazard evaluation from the director of Laboratory A to assist in the evaluation of a worker who had been diagnosed with cutaneous anthrax. Laboratory A, a provisionally approved Laboratory Response Network level B laboratory, had been processing environmental samples for Bacillus anthracis in support of CDC investigations of the bioterrorist attacks in the United States during fall 2001. Since March 7, CDC has interviewed the ill laboratory worker and other workers at the laboratory and conducted environmental assessments of the workplace. This report summarizes the epidemiologic and environmental investigation of this case, which indicates that the likely source of exposure was the surface of vials containing B. anthracis isolates that the worker placed in a freezer on March 1. Laboratory workers handling specimens of B. anthracis should follow recommended procedures to minimize the risk of B. anthracis transmission and anthrax.

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