The Ames strain is one of 89 known strains of the anthrax bacterium (Bacillus anthracis). It was isolated from a diseased 14-month-old Beefmaster heifer that died in Sarita, Texas in 1981. The strain was isolated at the Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory and a sample was sent to the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID). Researchers at USAMRIID mistakenly believed the strain came from Ames, Iowa because the return address on the package was the USDA's National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames and mislabeled the specimen.
The Ames strain came to wide public attention in association with the 2001 anthrax attacks. Seven letters mailed to media outlets and US Senators on September 18, 2001 and October 9, 2001 contained anthrax bacteria of this particular strain. This strain is a monomorphic disease, mutating slowly if at all.
Because of its virulence, the Ames strain is used by the United States as something of a gold standard for development of vaccines and testing their effectiveness, starting in the 1980s, after work on weaponizing the Vollum 1B strain ended and all weaponized stocks were destroyed after the end of the U.S. biological warfare program in 1969.
- Rasko DA, Worsham PL, Abshire TG, Stanley ST, Bannan JD, Wilson MR, Langham RJ, Decker RS, Jiang L (March 2011). "Bacillus anthracis comparative genome analysis in support of the Amerithrax investigation". Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 108 (12): 5027–32. doi:10.1073/pnas.1016657108. PMC . PMID 21383169.
- Warrick, Joby (2002-01-29). "One Anthrax Answer: Ames Strain Not From Iowa". The Washington Post.
- Fainaru, Steve; Joby Warrick (2001-11-25). "Deadly Anthrax Strain Leaves a Muddy Trail". Washington Post.
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