CONTACT: STEVE MARAVETZ
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-8033; fax (319) 384-4638
Release: Oct. 11, 2001
Anthrax quantities at UI Hygienic Laboratory are secure
CITY, Iowa -- Security at the University of Iowa Hygienic Laboratory has been
stepped up to safeguard small quantities of a non-virulent vaccine strain
of the bacteria that cause anthrax. The Hygienic Laboratory is located on
the UI's Oakdale Research Campus. UI Department of Public Safety officers
are working with the National Guard, the Iowa State Patrol and Coralville
police to provide the added security.
All anthrax specimens at the Hygienic Laboratory have been located and secured.
National Guard personnel and UI Public Safety police officers are presently
at the scene, said Public Safety Director Chuck Green.
"The Coralville Police Department and the Iowa State Patrol helped
secure the Hygienic Laboratory last night, and we're maintaining constant
contact with these departments," Green said.
The added security follows Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack's order last night (Oct.
10) that the Hygienic Laboratory and other sites around the state with anthrax
quantities be secured. The move followed reports yesterday linking the anthrax
strain that has killed a Florida man and infected two others to a strain isolated
in an unidentified Iowa lab in the 1950s. These reports have not been confirmed.
The anthrax organisms, which have been present at the UI Hygienic Laboratory
for about a decade, present no health risks, said Hygienic Laboratory Director
"The quantity of anthrax at our facility is very small, and the strain
is a vaccine strain, which does not have the toxic capabilities that virulent
strains do. There is not a public health threat here."
Access to Oakdale Hall, which houses the Hygienic Laboratory and other UI
departments and offices, remains open.
"The UI Department of Public Safety and the Hygienic Laboratory have
done an outstanding job in responding swiftly to the situation and cooperating
with law enforcement agencies, the Governor's Office and the Iowa Department
of Public Health," said UI Vice President for Research David Skorton.