THE US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reported to have reassigned the director of the bioterror lab behind the potential anthrax exposure of dozens of scientists and staff.

The possible exposure has forced as many as 84 employees at the agency's Atlanta campus to get a vaccine or take powerful antibiotics with known side effects to ward off potentially deadly anthrax disease.

CDC spokesman Tom Skinner declined to comment on the report relating to Michael Farrell, head of the CDC's Bioterror Rapid Response and Advanced Technology Laboratory. Calls and e-mail to Farrell were not returned.

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According to the CDC, some time between June 6- 13, workers in the bioterror lab agitated tubes and then removed the lids, raising concerns live anthrax could have been released into the air. Results from initial tests on lab surfaces have been negative.