CDC admits a lax culture at labs after exposures

Patient Safety Monitor Insider

July 16, 2014

The CDC, in a self-assessment being done after scientists at its headquarters potentially exposed dozens of employees due to sloppy handling of the deadly Anthrax bacteria, admits that its own safety procedures are lax. According to a report in the New York Times.

In the Times report, Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the head of the CDC in Atlanta, says he was “stunned and appalled” by the June 5 incident, in which scientists accidentally transferred live and dangerous Anthrax spores in the agency’s bioterrorism rapid response lab without proper breathing protection. Then, just last week, a second incident occurred when a dangerous strain of avian flu was accidentally shipped to a poultry research lab run by the Department of Agriculture.

According to the report, the CDC has shut down its flu and bioterror laboratories and has banned all shipments from the agency’s highest-security labs while safety protocols are reviewed — a move that could freeze work at many public-health labs that rely on such shipments. Meanwhile, outside experts are being brought in to form an external advisory group on lab safety.