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FBI Anthrax Investigation Shuts Fort Detrick Labs

FBI Anthrax Investigation Shuts Fort Detrick Labs. Some U.S. Army high-security laboratories at Fort Detrick in Maryland were closed as part of the nearly 3-year-old investigation into the 2001 anthrax mailing attacks, the Baltimore Sun reported (see GSN, July 19).

Investigators temporarily shut down bacteriology laboratories where anthrax research is conducted at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in Maryland, according to a source in contact with the institute’s scientists. FBI agents in recent months seized medical records and computer hard drives from the institute, the source said.

Agents are expected to be at the labs “for a few more days,” according to Debra Weierman, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s Washington field office. Anthrax spores can survive for centuries in soil and can linger for years in a laboratory where research was performed, said Henry Niman, a Pittsburgh molecular biologist who has followed the anthrax case. “My guess is they’d be vacuuming in all the corners, hoping to find spores that match,” Niman said. “If they can show it came from a certain lab, then they can see who had access to that lab,” he added (Scott Shane, Baltimore Sun, July 21).