Anthrax, Bird Flu Probe Reveals Serious Biosafety Lapses by CDC

Jul 15, 2014


A second investigation into the June anthrax breach at U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention laboratories found major safety lapses beyond those initially copped to by the CDC.

An investigation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), was conducted from June 23 to July 3. APHIS submitted its report to the CDC on July 10 -- a day before CDC released its own report. But the CDC report lacked the same details that the APHIS report included.

Findings from the APHIS report included: unidentified "materials" being carried from one CDC lab to another in two plastic Ziploc bags, anthrax stored in refrigerators in an unrestricted hallway, containers of anthrax that went missing and had to be tracked and located by the inspection team, decontaminating anthrax vials and bags with expired bleach, and taking five days to examine CDC workers potentially exposed to anthrax.

A subcommittee of the House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce will hold a hearing on Wednesday and will ask CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden about the anthrax and bird flu incidents, as well as probe whether those biosafety lapses have overall implications for federal oversight of dangerous pathogens.

Read the Reuters press release