ASM agrees with CDC call to remove six agents from bio-threat list

The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) said on Tuesday that it agrees with the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking recommendation that eliminates six biological agents from the list of top threats to public health.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued the recommendation in February.

ASM President Timothy Donohue and Ronald Atlas, chairman of ASM's Public and Scientific Affairs Board, agreed in a statement that two agents on the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Select Agents and Toxins List and four from the Overlap Select Agents and Toxins List, maintained by HHS and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), should be removed.

On the Select list, Coxiella burmetii and Rickettsia prowazekii were recommended for removal. C. burmetii is the cause of Q fever, which antibiotic and vaccine developments have reduced to a small threat. It is also known as epidemic typhus, which is readily treatable with current antibiotics.

On the Overlap list, an anthrax strain, Bacillus anthracis Pasteur strain, is up for removal because it lacks plasmid encoding that would make it harmful to humans. Three microorganisms from the Brucella genus are recommended to be eliminated due to advances with current antibiotics.

Despite the recommendations, ASM said they should not be considered harmless and should still be handled with caution.

Organizations in this story

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 1600 Clifton Rd Atlanta, GA 30329

American Society for Microbiology 1752 N St NW Washington, DC 20036

Get notified the next time we write about any of these organizations!