Tag Archives: anthrax

Unsafe anthrax shipments more extensive than first revealed

Government marches on! The Defense Department has now admitted that the improper shipment of live anthrax samples was far more widespread than they originally told us.

“As of now, 24 laboratories in 11 states and two foreign countries are believed to have received suspect samples. We continue to work closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), who is leading the ongoing investigation pursuit to its statutory authorities. The Department will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates to the public,” Defense Department said in a statement.

The Defense Department had previously reported labs in nine states and Osan Air Force Base in South Korea were impacted.

Words fail me.

Live anthrax spores shipped improperly by U.S. military

Does this make you feel safer? The Department of Defense [DOD] has admitted it mistakenly shipped live anthrax spores to nine laboratories that are unequipped to handle them.

The facilities that received the samples did not have systems in place to protect lab employees against anthrax exposure because they were expecting to receive spores that had been killed with radiation. It is not clear how many people were actually exposed. The DOD says that 22 people in South Korea are getting preventive treatment, but it has not confirmed how many people in the United States are being treated.

The failure here was not just with the DOD. The labs that accepted the samples are also at fault.

Possible ebola exposure at CDC

Government marches on! As many as a dozen scientists might have been mistakenly exposed to ebola at an Atlanta CDC lab.

The potential exposure took place Monday when scientists conducting research on the virus at a high-security lab mistakenly put a sample containing the potentially infectious virus in a place where it was transferred for processing to another CDC lab, also in Atlanta on the CDC campus.

The CDC statement is remarkably uninformative. From what little they say, it appears as if the sample was left out uncovered in the lab as people came in and out. It also suggests that this unsecured sample was also transferred improperly to another lab.

No need to worry however. Just like its previous investigation of errors in the handling of anthrax, CDC officials are on the case, doing investigations and writing press releases, just so us ordinary citizens won’t get worried and cut their funds.

CDC suspends shipments of dangerous pathogens

Due to a series of recent errors and mishaps in the shipment of dangerous pathogens such as anthrax and influenza, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has suspended future shipments while it conducts an investigation.

After news of the anthrax exposure broke on 19 June, the CDC began investigating why its lab workers did not follow proper procedure to inactivate Bacillus anthracis spores before shipping them to another lab on the agency’s Atlanta campus. The receiving lab was not equipped to handle the pathogen, and once the mistake was discovered, more than 70 people were pre-emptively treated for anthrax infection. The CDC now says that the lab never needed to work with B. anthracis in the first place; another bacterium would have sufficed to test the diagnostic equipment that the lab was evaluating. The good news, Frieden says, is that the CDC now does not believe that anyone was actually exposed to anthrax spores.

But the agency’s ongoing investigation has revealed more bad news: on 12–13 March, the CDC’s influenza lab contaminated a harmless flu strain with the highly dangerous H5N1 variety, and sent it to a laboratory operated by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Athens, Georgia. The mistake was discovered on 23 May, but Frieden says that he was not notified until 9 July. “Why it took six weeks for that to be made apparent, I can think of no valid explanation,” he says. The USDA lab was equipped to handle highly infectious agents, and the agency is confident that there were no exposures.