CDC to create Atlanta-based anthrax research database

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced plans to establish a public database of Bacillus anthracis, the anthrax-causing bacterium, in Atlanta.

The CDC published a request-for-quote to hire a contractor for the database project. The announcement came just weeks after 75 workers at the CDC's Atlanta campus were treated for potential exposure to anthrax, Atlanta Business Chronicle reports.

"It is essential to be able to rapidly genotype B. anthracis and compare to a robust database in order to gain insight into the possibility of an unexplained case being a bioterrorism event and into the potential origin of the strain," the CDC said, according to Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Genotyping of various B. anthracis strains is currently done in various laboratories throughout the world. Multiple laboratories use different methods for their databases and there is no public database. When the CDC encounters a new strain of B. anthracis, it must check its own database and the databases of other laboratories for comparisons, Atlanta Business Chronicle reports.

By developing the capacity to genotype B. anthracis at the CDC, it would potentially be able to determine and analyze the genomic sequence of up to 500 different strains.

"The establishment of a public database is essential in order to get data from around the world, particularly countries that have difficulty sharing strains, and is needed to make rapid/effective strain comparisons," the CDC said, according to Atlanta Business Chronicle.

In 2011, the CDC was called into investigate a Minnesota individual who became infected with anthrax, though the source of the infection was never discovered, Atlanta Business Chronicle reports.