Head of CDC Anthrax lab steps down

Patient Safety Monitor Insider

July 30, 2014

The head of the CDC lab where workers potentially exposed their colleagues to live anthrax resigned July 22, according to a report from the Associated Press.

According to the report, Michael Farrell, who had been head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lab since 2009, submitted his resignation amid controversy surrounding the incident last month at the lab in Atlanta that handles bioterrorism agents.

Reports indicate workers at the lab improperly followed protocols designed to completely kill anthrax samples before sending them to two other CDC labs that had fewer safeguards. As a result, dozens of CDC workers were potentially exposed to anthrax, but no one got sick.

An internal investigation found serious safety lapses, including use of an unapproved sterilization technique and use of a potent type of anthrax in an experiment that did not require a live form of the germ, according to the report. The lab has been shut down pending formal results of the investigation.