Tag Archives: influenza

More forgotten vials of deadly diseases discovered

FDA officials now admit that when they discovered six undocumented vials of smallpox in a facility in Maryland they also found 327 additional vials that contained dengue, influenza and rickettsia.

FDA scientists said they have not yet confirmed whether the newly disclosed vials actually contained the pathogens listed on their labels. The agency is conducting a nationwide search of all cold storage units for any other missing samples.

Investigators destroyed 32 vials containing tissue samples and a non-contagious virus related to smallpox. Several unlabeled vials were sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for testing and the remaining 279 samples were shipped to the Department of Homeland Security for safekeeping.

The FDA’s deputy director is quoted with what might be the understatement of the year. “The reasons why these samples went unnoticed for this long is something we’re actively trying to understand.” You think so, eh?

Let’s just make a quick list of the alphabet soup of federal agencies that we have discovered in the last few months to be either corrupt, incredibly incompetent, or spendthrifts: FDA, CDC, IRS, VA, HHS, NIH, GAO, DHS, TSA. We can add the State Department for its wonderful work in Benghazi, as well as the Border Patrol for their stellar effort in securing the border. I also know that the management at NASA leaves much to be desired.

We can also be sure that this is a partial list. It suggests something that any reasonably intelligent person should quickly see: The federal government is a corrupt mess, and should be overhauled so aggressively that when we are done we shouldn’t recognize it anymore. Certainly its size should be slashed by half, if only to cut off the excess funds that are being funneled to an uncountable number of corrupt practices.

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.