Health Highlights: May 28, 2015
Live Anthrax Samples Sent to at Least 18 Labs Across U.S.: CDC Cancer-Spreading Hysterectomy Device Focus of FBI Investigation
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Live Anthrax Samples Sent to at Least 18 Labs Across U.S.: CDC
At least 18 labs across the United States received live anthrax samples from the U.S. Army, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.
Another live sample of the deadly bacteria was sent to Osan Air Base in South Korea and 22 personnel there may have been exposed and are receiving treatment as a precaution, according to the U.S. Air Force, USA Today reported.
The CDC said live anthrax samples were shipped from the U.S. Army's Dugwa Proving Grounds in Utah to 18 labs in nine states: California, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.
The exact locations of the labs were not revealed, but "they are mostly private and some are operated by government and public institutions," CDC spokesman Jason McDonald said, USA Today reported.
The error, which is the latest in a series of mistakes involving federal labs, is "gross negligence," according to Richard Ebright, a biosafety expert at Rutgers in New Jersey.
"There is absolutely no excuse. Not for the shipping institution. Not for receiving institutions that failed to confirm inactivation upon receipt," he told USA Today. "Both should lose, irrevocably, authorization for work with active or inactivated select agents."
Anthrax spores can spread through the air and cause a fatal infection in people who don't receive treatment.
There are no suspected or confirmed cases of anthrax infection in potentially exposed workers at the 18 labs in the U.S., and no risk to the general public, according to the Pentagon.
Cancer-Spreading Hysterectomy Device Focus of FBI Investigation
A hysterectomy device found to spread uterine cancer is the focus of an FBI investigation.
Among other things, the agency wants to know what Johnson & Johnson -- the largest manufacturer of the surgical tool called a laparoscopic power morcellator -- knew about the device's potential risks before halting sales last year, according to three people who have been interviewed by the FBI, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Last November, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned that morcellators shouldn't be used on most women.
The FBI declined to comment about the probe and a Johnson & Johnson spokesman said the company isn't aware of an investigation into the device, WSJ reported.
People interviewed by the FBI include a retired pathologist who informed Johnson & Johnson about potential problems with the morcellator in 2006, a doctor whose uterine cancer was worsened by the tool, and a woman who has gathered the names of nearly 400 patients and family members of patients who may have been harmed by the morcellator.
The device -- which was used in tens of thousands of procedures a year, mainly hysterectomies -- cuts up benign uterine growths called fibroids so the tissue can be removed through tiny incisions, WSJ reported.
However, morcellators can put patients at risk by spreading undetected uterine cancer, according to the FDA.