Canada says no danger posed by U.S. anthrax shipment

Tue Jun 2, 2015 6:20pm EDT
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Canadian government confirmed on Tuesday that it received an anthrax sample kit from the U.S Department of Defense that might have contained live bacterium, but it said there were no reported illnesses.

In a statement, the Public Health Agency of Canada said it received the sample in August 2006, but that it had not been used for over five years and was relocated to a secure laboratory.

Live anthrax samples were shipped to three laboratories in Canada by a U.S. military lab, USA Today reported on Monday, following disclosures last week that samples of the bacteria were mistakenly sent to 11 U.S. states and two other countries.

The newspaper cited two Defense Department officials as saying the samples sent to Canada came from the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, where the other samples appear to trace back to as well. It is one of the U.S. military labs responsible for inactivation and shipping of biological material.

A spokesman for the Canadian agency noted that its staff were trained and knowledgeable in lab biosafety practices and protocols, including for the anthrax bacterium.

"Laboratory employees are not at risk and there has been no risk to Canadians," said spokesman Patrick Gaebel, adding that the agency was liaising with U.S. counterparts to determine any further steps to be taken.

(Reporting by Mike De Souza; Editing by Andre Grenon and Alan Crosby)