Hundreds of bioterror lab mishaps cloaked in secrecy

Patient Safety Monitor Insider

August 20, 2014

Government reports show that more than 1,100 laboratory incidents involving bacteria, viruses and toxins that pose significant or bioterror risks to people and agriculture were reported to federal regulators during 2008 through 2012, according to a report in USA Today.

More than half these incidents were serious enough that lab workers received medical evaluations or treatment, according to the report. In at least five incidents, laboratory workers had been infected or sickened, though they all recovered.

According to the report, in 2012, lab regulators received 247 reports of potential releases of dangerous pathogens. They also received 247 reports in 2011. There were 275 reports in 2010; 243 in 2009; and 116 in 2008. The information was provided by the CDC in response to a request from the newspaper, and detail incidents such as bites or scratches from infected animals, needle sticks, failures of personal protection equipment, spills or specimen packages that temporarily went missing after they were shipped. No thefts were reported, the report said.