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article imageCDC receives low biosafety score

By Tim Sandle     Apr 4, 2015 in Science
Bethesda - A new report into biosafety has found the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) oversight of such matters “inconsistent and insufficient at multiple levels.”
Last year the Digital Journal reported on several occasions about issues relating to biological control at U.S. government run institutions including the CDC. In one case, CDC laboratory workers unknowingly handled live anthrax bacteria, a matter which which led to several potential infections.
In a second case, the CDC's influenza laboratory personnel reported the inadvertent contamination of an avian influenza virus sample shipped to a U.S. Department of Agriculture facility (USDA) with the highly pathogenic H5N1.
In response to these serious lapses the CDC placed a temporary moratorium on movement of biological materials from biosafety level facilities. During this period, the head of the CDC biosecurity laboratory resigned.
Nine months on from these incidents, a new report into the CDC's activities concludes: "Safety is not integrated into strategic planning and is not currently part of the CDC culture, enterprise-wide."
Furthermore, according to Time the report also describes the CDC’s commitment to safety as “inconsistent and insufficient at multiple levels.” Concerns include inadequate laboratory safety training; CDC workers being afraid to report possible exposures to hazardous material due to fear of repercussions; and criticisms over the CDC's Environment, Safety, and Health Compliance Office (ESHCO) as having “inadequate expertise” in lab safety.
The report is titled "Recommendations of the Advisory Committee to the Director Concerning Laboratory Safety at CDC." The report was written in January 2015, although the contents are only now being made public. The CDC has issued a statement saying that it agrees with the recommendations and is working to implement them.
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