CDC: We "may never know" how bird flu mishap occurred

Patient Safety Monitor Insider

July 23, 2014

The CDC admits it “may never know” how a fairly harmless form of bird flu was cross-contaminated with a dangerous bird flu strain before it was sent to a laboratory to be studied by poultry researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in March, according to a report from Reuters News Service.

Government officials quoted by Reuters said most of the materials used in the experiment to culture the virus were discarded shortly after they were used by the scientists performing the work, who discovered the mistake after all of their chickens died.


According to the report, cross-contamination often can occur if improperly disinfected instruments come in contact with a growth medium, the material used to grow up the organisms, or if infected growth medium is inadvertently used. Officials told Reuters the materials were discarded after the cross-contamination was discovered. The researchers reportedly learned of the mistake in May and didn’t report it to the CDC until July.