75 Atlanta employees possibly exposed to anthrax - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

75 Atlanta employees possibly exposed to anthrax

ATLANTA (CBS46) -

The nation's leading authority on infectious disease was on high alert after 75 workers were exposed to anthrax.

Rebecca Merrill was leaving work at the Centers for Disease Control when CBS 46 told her the news.

Merrill, was not one of the people exposed, said she is confident the agency quickly brought the potential crisis under control.

"I know there are great strategies to address the issue," Merrill said.

According to the CDC, staff members may have been exposed between June 6 and June 13.

Workers were not wearing adequate protective gear because they thought the bacterium was rendered harmless. It was not. 

Dr. Gaylord Lopez, who heads the Georgia Poison Center, said if it is not caught early, anthrax can be very dangerous.

"It's a pretty big deal. If left untreated, it can turn into a big-time respiratory illness, where they can get chalky and eventually die in a few days if not treated," Lopez said.

The CDC said the area where the anthrax got out was decontaminated. And staffers were given antibiotics as a precaution.

"The good news is, no risk to the public, it's in a contained area and we can get these people treated with antibiotics and they should be fine," Lopez said.

So far, there are no reports of anyone getting sick.

The staff may be disciplined for not following protocol.

Copyright 2014 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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