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article imageCDC bird flu contamination caused by man rushing to a meeting

By Tim Sandle     Aug 22, 2014 in Science
Atlanta - New evidence suggests that a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) scientist who accidentally leaked H5N1 into a benign strain of avian influenza may have been rushing off to a meeting.
A CDC worker mistakenly transferred a live sample of avian flu into a sample tube instead of an inactivated one, triggering a major security alert. Following this case, laboratory workers unknowingly handled live anthrax bacteria, which led to several potential infections.
As reported by Digital Journal, following recent high-profile safety lapses in government labs, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) placed a moratorium on movement of all hazardous biological materials. This was lifted a few weeks ago. The report into one of these incidents — the bird flu case — has recently been released.
An internal report by the CDC suggests that the researcher responsible for the contamination of a relatively benign H9N2 bird flu strain with the deadly H5N1 was overworked and in a rush to attend a lab meeting. The report also notes that the accident most likely occurred in mid-January, though the contamination was not discovered until months later.
Commenting on the findings, CDC’s Anne Schuchat, director of the agency’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told USA Today that the incident is “unacceptable.” She added: “We just don’t think shortcuts are permissible when working with these kinds of dangerous pathogens.”
The CDC is now confident that it has more robust procedures in place.
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