Sunday, September 28, 2008

Another anthrax accident was reported at Fort Detrick in 2002

A letter published in the Journal of Environmental and Occupational Medicine, April 2004 described two lab workers using standard procedures to grow and handle anthrax at USAMRIID. Despite this, medium leaked from a flask and spores were recovered from the nares of one of the workers. The potential for inhalation anthrax was considered serious, and the worker received an extra vaccine booster dose and both took cipro for a month.

There was also a case of cutaneous anthrax reported in a lab worker in Texas in 2002 (MMWR 2002;51:482). It appears Ivins' accident was by no means a unique event.


Anonymous said...

This cannot be.

All labs have accidents. All labs have employees who don't report the accidents.

But Detrick is special. Everyone is perfect and if they were not would broadcast their faults and mistakes to all. The Evil Ivins, by making a mistake at Detrick, and failing to report it, proves that he is guilty. Because the FBI says so.

Old Atlantic Lighthouse said...

April 5, 2002 culture flasks of B. anthracis placed in a rotating shaker incubator.

April 8, 2002 the culture flasks were removed.

So it took 3 days to grow. This rotating incubator had what sort of capacity? One liter?

The FBI lab records for Ivins put him in the lab at night Fri Sep 14 to Sunday Sep 16. So if he used the same incubator, he would get one run only. If that was one liter, then he had only one liter.

That would likely give under 1 gram if we go by the 2004 paper and assume 3 days in the incubator gives asymptotic convergence to the 14 day period in the paper.

For the first mailings, Ivins had at least 5 grams and likely 10 grams if we assume losses out of the envelopes. Thus using this incubator he couldn't produce that.

For the second set of runs in October he has a starting weekend. So he gets one run. If he does a second run after that during the week with Friday Oct 5, then he has to let it run 3 days in the lab. So coworkers would see it.

One run that second set of letters gives him just one gram and probably less, if we go by these assumptions.

The 3 day run on the first weekend doesn't give him any time to use a lyophilizer to dry the anthrax. So he runs out of time.

For the second set, he doesn't get his culture grown after 3 days until Sunday night and then if he lyophilizes overnight, lab workers will know it.

The FBI didn't do a timeline of what he was doing each night in the lab and whether that could be undetected by coworkers. They just assumed night time in lab means undetected and he could produce all the anthrax needed and dry it.

Another point from this paper, is that if Ivins was exposed in the preparation process he would need the same course of antibiotics? When were his vaccinations in relation to the ones of the person in this case? Ivins had two exposures, one around Sep 18 and another around Oct 5 if the FBI theory is true.

Paper ref

Title : Production of Bacillus Spores as a Simulant for Biological Warfare Agents

Descriptive Note : Final rept. Sep 2002-Sep 2003


Personal Author(s) : Carey, Laurie F. ; St. Amant, Diane C. ; Guelta, Mark A.

PDF linking at this time.

Old Atlantic Lighthouse said...

That should have been 3 days from Fri Sep 14 2001 goes to the night of Monday Sep 17 2001. So he would have had to stop growing Sat Sep 15 2001 if he needed to lyophilize a day.

He still couldn't produce the 5 grams to 10 grams of the first envelope with a 1 day run using the rotating shaker incubator it seems is a good inference.

Even if we assumed the first run was poor quality and stopped early.

However, if the first run is stopped early, then when dried, we should get dried nutrient as well. So if for example he used dried powdered milk as the nutrient in solution, then the powder recovered should be over 1/2 dried powdered milk or something related to that after the processing. Surely that could be identified.

Old Atlantic Lighthouse said...

The centrifuge step its true might separate the nutrient from the anthrax. But then he gets very little anthrax. The separation also might not be complete. This could be checked to see what happens when one stops growth early.

So the procedure is take casein digest, CD, say and use that in solution to grow anthrax for one day, centrifuge a few times adding water, and then dry it and see if its pure anthrax spores or not.

In any case, the yield is not going to be 5 to 10 grams of usable powder for the envelopes. If it does separate in the centrifuge, then he had to have that much more to start with to get 5 to 10 grams for the 5 envelopes.

Note if he mailed 2 grams in an envelope it might leak since we are told the envelope had 50 micron holes and the anthrax is mostly about 1 to 5 microns.

How big were the holes in the inside paper wrap? Same 50 microns?

Old Atlantic Lighthouse said...

"October 1: American Media mail clerk Ernesto Blanco is hospitalized and diagnosed with pneumonia (in fact, he has inhaled anthrax)."

"October 4: Robert Stevens is publicly confirmed to have inhalational anthrax. It is the first known case of inhalational anthrax in the U.S. since 1976."

"October 5: Robert Stevens, 63, dies, the first fatality in the anthrax attacks."

These are from the Sep 18 mailings. So, as pointed out by others, the Sep 18 mailings had to include some higher quality anthrax.

If, however, Ivins was rushing the first batch and giving up quality to do it in one weekend, then he wouldn't have had the high quality anthrax to use to cause the inhalation anthrax in the Florida cases.

The alternative hypo for some letters having low quality in the Sep 18 letters is they got wet or humidity.

But the hypo that Ivins rushed the anthrax prep on the first weekend is undermined by a case of inhalation anthrax in Florida, actually 2 cases, one fatal.