Keywords: microbiology, Bacillus anthracis spores, isolation, identification, postal samples, environmental samples, bioterrorism, PCR, polymerase chain reaction, mouse bioassay, terrorism
Detection of Bacillus anthracis spores in postal and environmental samples in cases of suspected bioterrorism
From October 2001 to the end of 2004, a series of postal samples containing material suspected of containing Bacillus anthracis spores were examined. Environmental samples from dwelling places of some addressees and laboratory areas, including equipment, were also examined. Classical culture methods for isolation and identification were slightly modified and conformed to environmental samples. The most common bacteria isolated from postal samples were different Bacillus spp. (B. cereus, B. licheniformis, B. subtilis, B. mycoides). In cases of isolation of nonmotile and nonhaemolytic Bacillus spp., morphologically resembling B. anthracis, identification was supplemented by molecular method and mouse bioassay. All the samples resulted negative to Bacillus anthracis but in several cases an extended procedure was necessary to confirm the negative result.