The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have announced the addition of an emerging Bacillus cereus strain that causes anthrax-like disease to the HHS list of Select Agents and Toxins.

Bacillus cereus Biovar anthracis is a recently recognized, emerging pathogen[] that has all the virulence characteristics and threat potential of Bacillus anthracis, a Tier 1 select agent,” states the interim final rule, which takes effect October 14, 2016. “This organism is not currently on the HHS List of Select Agents and Toxins; we are proposing regulating this organism as a Tier 1 select agent because of its potential for misuse and its threat to public health and safety.”

HHS defines a biovar as “a group of microorganisms that are genetically similar but differ from other members of the species by biochemical or genetic characteristics.” Isolated from gorillas and chimpanzees with anthrax-like illness, this biovar has been identified in “some African countries, one registered entity in the United States, and one facility in Germany.” The agencies will accept comments on the interim final rule until November 14, 2016. See Federal Register, September 14, 2016.