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Officials Concerned About Plans for Home Anthrax Test

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CHARLOTTE — Health officials are concerned an anthrax testing kit that a Matthews company plans to sell over-the-counter could lead to needless anthrax scares.

Vital Living Products said it is expanding its home testing product line to include a home test for anthrax.The company is gearing up for some big sales.

"We can ship 20,000 units a day. We have enormous response from all over the country," said Donald Prodrebara, company president.

The company, which normally makes water test kits, decided to make one for anthrax after the attacks of Sept 11.

"By having this test available in American homes, the bioterrorists will realize it doesn't make sense to attack us," said Prodrebara.

Prodrebara said that test is very simple and that a result takes one to two days.

While the company says its product works, not everyone is convinced.

The home test kit would be similar to tests firefighters and hazardous materials teams use in the field to detect anthrax. Those tests are considered unreliable because they sometimes give a false positive. Similar bacteria often trigger a positive result.

"There's going to be a lot of false positives, meaning people are not going to be infected with anthrax even though the tests indicate they are," said Dr. Michael Hudson, a biologist at UNC-Charlotte.

Health officials are also concerned because the kits would not have to be approved by a government agency.

Vital Living's PurTest Anthrax Home Test will be manufactured in Charlotte and is expected to be in stores by Thanksgiving.The $25 kit would be the first anthrax test available to the general public.