Local News

State Ends Field Testing For Anthrax

Posted November 7, 2001

— There will be a change in how local authorities test for anthrax. Field tests will no longer be used; samples will now be sent directly to the state lab.

Anthrax is one of many types of bacteria that could be detected by the tests, which are inaccurate more often than they are accurate.

The workers who used the tests to detect

whether a suspicious substance in Fayetteville

was anthrax first reported a positive reading for anthrax. The state lab found the substance was not anthrax.

It was a situation that frustrated the state and the governor.

"In Fayetteville, for example, they handled it perfectly. They didn't do anything wrong. It's just the local test they used was not for anthrax, it was for bacteria. They didn't know that," said Easley.

Fayetteville spokesman Jason Brady said, even with the field test kit's spotty accuracy rate, the Haz-Mat team is at a disadvantage without it.

"It puts the responder in a very precarious situation. Before, at least, they had a way of verifying if it wasn't," he said.

Business at the hotel where the incident happened is getting back to normal, but the city is still adding up the cost. Preliminary figures show the incident may have cost the city around $11,000.

In the future, the same precautions will be taken, but there will be no field test. Whatever substances are found will be sent to a state lab where it will take two to three days to process.

To date, the state lab has tested more than 200 such samples. None has tested positive for anthrax.


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