(Updated with CDC statement and Canadian news coverage of South Carolina case.)
No new cases of anthrax have been confirmed in U.S. lawmakers since last week, following a confirmed case in the U.S. House last Thursday that forced a rare all-out vaccination for members of Congress.
CDC confirms the anthrax vaccine is effective among members of Congress.
A new case was diagnosed on Wednesday in a Canadian politician who had been given the vaccine and spent time in Washington. But officials said it would not prevent another case, and that no member of the delegation was believed to be infected.
The State Department said the case was confirmed at a federal facility in Canada, and that it came from a recent visit to Washington by the individual.
There are nearly 7,000 federal employees working in the Environmental Protection Agency building that has been surrounded by a barricade since the initial anthrax scare in the House last week. The protective outer cabinet walls have been sealed off since that time.
Other federal buildings in the Washington area and embassies outside the U.S. have been taking precautions to ensure the safety of congressional staffers, contractors and embassy staff.
U.S. News & World Report reported that a member of Canada’s Congress, the opposition New Democratic Party, tested positive for anthrax on Wednesday, and would receive treatment.
“The New Democratic Party continues to be strongly opposed to the use of this invasive and potentially deadly vaccine by U.S. politicians,” Canadian Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor said in a statement.
“This confirmed case of anthrax disease does not change Canada’s position or actions on this matter,” she said.
Official cited lack of evidence in concluding Canada did not pose a threat to U.S. congressional workers
On Wednesday, in an email, a CDC spokeswoman said that officials believe “the risk to U.S. congressional workers in the United States is not increased.”
The spokeswoman went on to say that “CDC has never documented any cases of anthrax infection caused by inhalation anthrax vaccine in people outside of the U.S.”
In an emailed statement, CDC officials said: “Based on CDC’s review of recent published scientific literature, there is no documented case of a person being infected with anthrax after vaccination, and most authors in the literature recognize this as a rare and unusual event.”
“Based on CDC’s review of recent published scientific literature, there is no documented case of a person being infected with anthrax after vaccination, and most authors in the literature recognize this as a rare and unusual event.”
Other studies, though, suggest that the vaccine is not as effective as people may believe.
Earlier this year, for example, a study published in the U.S. journal JAMA Pediatrics found that only half of the children exposed to anthrax vaccines as young as 12 months “survived three years of infection.” And “all children who were vaccinated, and those who received only the live spore vaccine, were as likely to die of pertussis or meningitis as non-vaccinated children,” the study found.
Meanwhile, Reuters is reporting that the shots were administered to 14 South Carolina House Republicans last week, and two of them are said to have gotten sick. The two were treated with antibiotics and released.
“There’s no indication that either of the patients identified last week had any infection with anthrax,” Brian Hauswirth, deputy superintendent of the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center in Rock Hill, said Wednesday, the report said.
The patient at the prison tested positive for anthrax after consuming food or drinking water contaminated with feces and urine from another prisoner, WLTX-TV, of Columbia, South Carolina, reported. The inmates are segregated from each other.
The CDC said the virus in the bathroom shared by the two inmates and the feces and urine shared by the other inmate are not the same strain of anthrax. It said no other other contaminated items in the bathroom had been found.
The San Diego Medical Examiner’s Office in California has confirmed the death of 91-year-old Alfred Hickman, who was among six patients in the county hospital infected with anthrax.
“The death is not due to the use of adjuvanted products. Mr. Hickman died of natural causes with no known exposure to anthrax,” the agency said