ATLANTA (AP)--A Texas laboratory worker who contracted skin anthrax last month probably got it because he was not wearing gloves when he handled vials of spores collected from last fall's mail attacks, the government said Thursday.
The worker handled the spores a day after he had cut his jaw while shaving, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. He then apparently touched his face and developed an anthrax sore on his jaw.
The man was put on antibiotics and is recovering.
It was the first known anthrax case in the United States since the anthrax-by-mail attacks that killed five people and sickened 13 more.
None of the 40 workers at the lab had been vaccinated against anthrax, the CDC said.
The CDC has not identified the worker or the lab.
The infection apparently happened March 1 as the worker was moving vials from a cabinet into a freezer, the CDC said. He was not wearing gloves, contrary to federal health recommendations, the agency said.
Over the next few days, the shaving cut became larger and the man reported swelling on his neck and a low-grade fever. He spent five days in the hospital.
The CDC said the case highlights the need for workers who regularly handle anthrax specimens to be vaccinated against the disease. Workers at many anthrax labs already are.
The private laboratory was one of several the CDC contracted with to work through a backlog of samples collected during the peak of the anthrax attacks.
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