On Friday the 13th of June 2014, a scientist in a bioterrorism research laboratory at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta noticed something unsettling. An unexpected growth appeared on a plate that supposedly held an inactivated form of the deadly anthrax bacteria.

More worrisome still, the plate was part of a larger sample — but the rest of that sample had already been removed and taken to another CDC lab that wasn’t equipped for experiments on pathogens as easily spread as live anthrax. Unaware that the sample might be live, a scientist there had already begun working with it, first using a nitrogen air stream to clean flakes off the plate holding it — a process that could transform the anthrax sample into an airborne threat. Continue reading.