(NaturalNews) A breach of protocol at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) facility near Atlanta, Georgia, may have resulted in some 80 employees being exposed to anthrax, according to new reports. A vaguely specified "laboratory incident" triggered the release of the deadly pathogen in three areas of the campus in early June, though no employees have yet shown symptoms of the disease.
In a notice sent out to CDC employees, agency director Thomas R. Frieden explained that "[e]stablished procedures" at the facility "were not followed," and that all employees would need to take a course of antibiotics to hopefully avoid contracting the pathogen, which can enter the body through various ways to cause different kinds of infections: the skin (cutaneous), the blood (injection), the throat or stomach (gastrointestinal), the brain (meningeal) or the lungs (inhalation).
Since the bacterium, known as Bacillus anthracis, can take days or even weeks to take hold, there is fear within the scientific community that a major outbreak could soon occur. Typically found in soil, anthrax is a spore-forming bacterium that, although it typically emerges in cattle, can affect humans. If contracted, anthrax kills its host between 50 and 90 percent of the time.
"The affected areas were the Bioterrorism Rapid Response and Advanced Technology laboratory (Building 18), the Biotechnology Core Facility (Building 23), and the Special Bacteriology Reference Laboratory (Building 17)," reads the notice issued by Frieden. "Out of an abundance of caution, we are reaching out to all staff who may have entered these laboratories from June 6 - 13, 2014."
Though Frieden was quick to say that CDC staff, family members and the general public "are not at any risk and do not need to take any protective action," all employees at the CDC were given antibiotics and told to take them in accordance with the agency's general guidelines. In some people, symptoms can remain dormant for anywhere form seven days to eight weeks, explains The Daily Beast, which means an outbreak is still possible.