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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 Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 13, 2014 @02:16AM (#47441233)

    I have a friend that works at the influenza lab in question. From what I've been told... this is what happened. That the prep work was done by private sector before samples were handed off to the CDC. It was a poorly trained lab tech at the private company that screwed up the anthrax samples in question. (Second hand hearsay here though, so take with a grain of salt.)

  • Responsible party? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bruce66423 ( 1678196 ) on Sunday July 13, 2014 @03:02AM (#47441301)
    In British law we have the slightly perverse sight of government instutition being charged in their own right - without the need to identify an individual. The outcome is fines paid by one part of government to another, but it does focus the leadership to get it right (my own police force has at least one conviction for health and safety violations arising from the death of police office).

The unfacts, did we have them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude.