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Medicine Government Science

CDC Closes Anthrax, Flu Labs After Potentially Deadly Mix-Ups Come to Light 89

In the wake of two potentially deadly accidents, the CDC yesterday announced the temporary closure of both the anthrax and flu research labs at the agency's Atlanta headquarters. The New York Times reports: In one episode last month, at least 62 C.D.C. employees may have been exposed to live anthrax bacteria after potentially infectious samples were sent to laboratories unequipped to handle them. Employees not wearing protective gear worked with bacteria that were supposed to have been killed but may not have been. All were offered a vaccine and antibiotics, and the agency said it believed no one was in danger. “We have a high degree of confidence that no one was exposed,” said Dr. Thomas Frieden, the C.D.C. director. Credit David Goldman/Associated Press In a second accident, disclosed Friday, a C.D.C. lab accidentally contaminated a relatively benign flu sample with a dangerous H5N1 bird flu strain that has killed 386 people since 2003. Fortunately, a United States Agriculture Department laboratory realized that the strain was more dangerous than expected and alerted the C.D.C. ... The anthrax and flu labs will remain closed until new procedures are imposed, Frieden said. For the flu lab, that will be finished in time for vaccine preparation for next winter’s flu season, he said.
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CDC Closes Anthrax, Flu Labs After Potentially Deadly Mix-Ups Come to Light

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  • by Bruce66423 ( 1678196 ) on Saturday July 12, 2014 @08:30PM (#47440363)
    That is what should happen surely?
  • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Saturday July 12, 2014 @08:55PM (#47440449)

    "People that do stupid things with dangerous objects often die."

  • by imidan ( 559239 ) on Saturday July 12, 2014 @09:02PM (#47440467)

    Wouldn't it make more sense to perform an audit to ensure that this hasn't happened unnoticed in the past, and simultaneously to perform a review and revision of the protocols and policies that allowed this to happen? I feel like solving the problem is more important than assigning blame. I mean, I can see firing someone if they had acted from gross incompetence, but I don't think prison is necessary.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 12, 2014 @09:46PM (#47440567)

    Maybe so. But was it the same guy who caused both of these things to happen? Is their timing coincidental, or is there a systemic cause? Maybe the political reality is that someone needs to be fired, and I can understand that, but I'm more interested in making sure that we minimize the risk of this happening again by identifying and addressing the systemic causes.

  • Re: CDC (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 12, 2014 @09:59PM (#47440609)

    I really, realy hope you aren't this stupid - anthrax spores can probably be cultured from the dirt in your backyard by any competent undergrad microbiology student.... sticking our head the sand and saying "LALALALALALALALA" works about as well in bacteriology as it does for global warming, the NSA, Wall Street corruption, etc.

    Really hoping I've been Godwin-d.

  • Re:Well ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <> on Sunday July 13, 2014 @01:58AM (#47441189) Homepage Journal

    YOu mean when an issue came to light the immediately started working on it to see that it's fixed?

    Yes, that is government system at work,

    Why do idiots like you thing privatized health care doesn't have incidents? oh right, because private companies can hush it up where as government entities have to be far more open.

    Had this been private company, do you think you would have heard of it?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 13, 2014 @10:34AM (#47442567)

    Why would it discourage reporting? If you are senior enough you do the normal Pr route of a meaningless apology, fire some Junior scapegoat and its all forgotten in next weeks scandal. If you are unlucky then you get kicked upstairs to some other position on a higher pension rate for the rest of your career.

    That's how the old boy network works in the UK old bean.

Time to take stock. Go home with some office supplies.