Friday, August 15, 2014

CDC Accidentally Ships Deadly Virus, Hopes No One Will Notice

CDC Accidentally Ships Deadly Virus, Hopes No One Will Notice

That wacky CDC is up to its old, potentially fatal-virus-spreading tricks again. But instead of anthrax or dengue,
this time, the Centers for Disease Control brought a deadly strain of
bird flu into its revolving cast of highly contagious characters. While
rushing to get to a meeting, a CDC scientist accidentally tainted a tamer strain of bird flu with a far more deadly one—and then sent it out to another unsuspecting lab. Whoops.

most recent set of hijinks took place at CDC Prevention headquarters in
Atlanta in January, when a lab scientist accidentally mixed the two
samples, sending what should have been a benign (at least to
humans) strain of the virus to another lab. Except, you know, it wasn't.
So when that very same virus concoction was given to some unsuspecting
chickens as part of a USDA study in March, and all those chickens
proceeded to immediately die, the USDA officials knew something wasn't

The CDC lab responsible for the deadly mixed sample then confirmed that, yes, that virus was actually wildly dangerous but told, well, no one. No one until June, that is, when a second lab reported a similar problem, and CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden was finally notified.

the lab scientist who had originally contaminated the sample completed
what should have been 90 minutes of work (with both the tame and deadly
viruses) in 51 minutes, in an attempt to make the noon meeting. Whether
that meeting actually did begin as scheduled, though, remains

To the CDC's credit, "the viral mix was at all times contained in specialized laboratories and was never a threat to the public," according to an internal report. But then that's what they said last time, too. And the time before that. Here's to hoping Ebola's not next. [AP]

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