Workers who handle dangerous pathogens at Army biological research laboratories will get additional security training in the wake of the FBI's finding that an Army scientist was behind the 2001 anthrax attacks, military officials said Tuesday.
A weeklong refresher course began Monday at the flagship biodefense lab at Fort Detrick in Frederick, where microbiologist Bruce Ivins allegedly obtained and refined the anthrax used in the deadly mailings, laboratory spokeswoman Caree Vander Linden said.
Ivins committed suicide in July as prosecutors prepared to charge him in mailings that killed five people and sickened 17 others.
Vander Linden said additional training in security, accounting and reporting rules will be given at five other Army labs over the next few months. She said Army leaders are not calling for changes in pathogen handling but are reiterating procedures for inventory and documentation.
Michael Brady, special assistant to Army Secretary Pete Geren, said the training was recommended as a first step by a task force reviewing biolab security practices in response to the Ivins case.
Tracking inventories of biological agents is trickier than tracking chemical inventories because biological materials can be grown, resulting in a larger supply, or reduced by distillation, Vander Linden said.
She said Fort Detrick's lab, the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, or USAMRIID, has strengthened its security procedures since the anthrax attacks.
Scientists at USAMRIID and other military labs study the world's deadliest pathogens to develop antidotes, vaccines and other defenses against germs troops might encounter naturally or from a biological weapons attack.