The Centers for Disease Control laboratories in Atlanta, Georgia disclosed that they have sent “highly dangerous pathogens’’ to other laboratories five separate times in the last decade, according to The Washington Post.
These highly dangerous pathogens include anthrax, potentially lethal botulism bacteria and a deadly bird flu virus.
The five incidents were disclosed in a June 11th report released by the CDC director, which was prompted after the most recent incident, which involved the “unintentional release of potentially viable anthrax,’’ exposing potentially dozens of employees.
The report stated that since the anthrax incident, the CDC has ensured that “any potentially exposed staff were assessed and, if appropriate, provided preventive treatment to reduce the risk of illness if exposure had occurred.’’ Also, the lab in which it occurred is pending investigation, has been decontaminated, researched, reviewed and has ceased operations.
“These events should never have happened,’’ CDC Director Tom Frieden told The Washington Post. The American people “may be wondering whether we’re doing what we need to do to keep them safe and to keep our workers safe,’’ he said. “I’m disappointed and frankly I’m angry about it.’’
The CDC’s report also included information regarding an inadvertent shipment of an influenza virus H5N1.
“…a low-pathogenic avian influenza sample was inadvertently cross-contaminated with a select agent, the highly pathogenic H5N1 influenza virus, before being shipped from an influenza laboratory to the US Department of Agriculture Southeast Poultry Research Laboratories (SEPRL).’’
They said that there does not appear to be any safety risk from this incident.
The Washington Post said, “The release of the CDC report comes days after government officials discovered decades-old vials of smallpox in a building on the Bethesda campus of The National Institutes of Health.’’
The four other incidents include:
1. 2006: CDC’s bioterror lab transferred anthrax to two outside labs.
2. 2006: Shipments from a CDC lab contained live botulism bacteria, “which can cause paralysis in infected people.’’
3. 2009: “Brucella, which can cause a highly contagious bacterial infection called brucellosis, had been shipped to outside laboratories as early as 2001 because researchers believed mistakenly that it was a vaccine strain of the bacteria. It was not.’’
4. The H5N1 virus described above.