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Jul 21, 2014

U.S. CDC says it ‘may never know’ how bird flu mishap occurred

CHICAGO, July 21 (Reuters) – The U.S. Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention “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 outside of the
CDC, an agency spokesman said on Monday.

That’s because 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, which occurred in March,
CDC spokesman Tom Skinner told Reuters.

Jul 17, 2014

Before anthrax mishap, CDC made similar lab safety pledges-lawmaker

WASHINGTON/CHICAGO, July 17 (Reuters) – U.S. lawmakers
investigating repeated safety lapses at government laboratories
questioned Thursday whether the U.S. Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention was up to the task of fixing the problem, given
similar promises to remedy such breaches in 2012.

The CDC is under scrutiny for a June incident, in which more
than 80 lab workers may have been exposed to live anthrax
bacteria that was mistakenly sent out of a high-security lab on
its Atlanta campus. Federal investigators have since reported
dozens of other infractions at CDC labs that handle deadly
pathogens such as anthrax and avian flu.

Jul 8, 2014

Smallpox vials from 1950s found in U.S. lab storage room

CHICAGO/ATLANTA, July 8 (Reuters) – Stray vials of the
deadly smallpox virus from the 1950s have been discovered at a
federal lab near Washington, U.S. health officials said on
Tuesday, marking the second major lapse in a month in the way
the United States handles deadly pathogens.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said
that workers discovered the vials in a cardboard box on July 1
while clearing out an old lab on the National Institutes of
Health campus in Bethesda, Maryland.

Jul 1, 2014

U.S. agency taps medical centers to investigate rare diseases

CHICAGO, July 1 (Reuters) – The U.S. government’s leading
health research agency said on Tuesday it has selected six U.S.
academic medical centers to help discover the cause of
undiagnosed diseases using advanced diagnostic tools, including
gene sequencing.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) said the six centers
will expand the work of a pilot program at the NIH Clinical
Center in Bethesda, Maryland, that for the past six years has
evaluated hundreds of patients and provided many diagnoses,
often using genomic approaches, for rare conditions.

Jun 30, 2014

U.S. CDC tests suggest anthrax exposures ‘highly unlikely’

CHICAGO (Reuters) – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is advising some employees to stop taking antibiotics to ward off a possible anthrax infection after preliminary tests suggest it is “highly unlikely” they were inadvertently exposed to live anthrax bacteria earlier this month, a spokesman said on Monday.

The CDC conducted the tests after an incident in the agency’s high-security bioterror response laboratory suggested live anthrax may have been transferred from that lab to employees in a lower-security facility who were not wearing proper protective gear, raising concerns that they may have been exposed to the deadly pathogen.

Jun 29, 2014

Insight: CDC didn’t heed own lessons from 2004 anthrax scare

CHICAGO/NEW YORK (Reuters) – When a Maryland lab accidentally sent a batch of live anthrax to a children’s hospital in California in 2004, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent a team of investigators to make sure such an error never happened again.

    This month, the CDC is investigating a nearly identical anthrax mixup — within its own highly secure Atlanta laboratories. The question of what to do is back.

Jun 29, 2014

CDC didn’t heed own lessons from 2004 anthrax scare

CHICAGO/NEW YORK, June 29 (Reuters) – When a Maryland lab
accidentally sent a batch of live anthrax to a children’s
hospital in California in 2004, the U.S. Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention sent a team of investigators to make sure
such an error never happened again.

This month, the CDC is investigating a nearly identical
anthrax mixup – within its own highly secure Atlanta
laboratories. The question of what to do is back.

Jun 27, 2014

Exclusive: U.S. government scientists retrace events leading to anthrax breach

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Scientists at the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are conducting tests to see whether the procedure they followed to kill anthrax, although flawed by their own standards, may nevertheless have killed the potentially deadly pathogen before it was sent to less-secure laboratories, where employees work without adequate protective gear.

If they are right, it may mean dozens of scientists and staff, who were given a vaccine and powerful antibiotics to prevent anthrax infection, may never actually have been in danger of anthrax disease, a potentially deadly illness that was at the center of 2001 bioterror attacks.

Jun 24, 2014

CDC reassigns director of lab behind anthrax blunder

ATLANTA/CHICAGO (Reuters) – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reassigned the director of the bioterror lab behind the potential anthrax exposure of dozens of scientists and staff, sources told Reuters, as the anthrax controversy intensified.

Michael Farrell, head of the CDC’s Bioterror Rapid Response and Advanced Technology Laboratory, has been reassigned as the agency investigates the incident, two CDC scientists who are not authorized to speak with press told Reuters.

Jun 23, 2014

Exclusive: CDC reassigns director of lab behind anthrax blunder

ATLANTA/CHICAGO (Reuters) – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reassigned the director of the bioterror lab behind the potential anthrax exposure of dozens of scientists and staff, sources told Reuters, as the anthrax controversy intensified.

Michael Farrell, head of the CDC’s Bioterror Rapid Response and Advanced Technology Laboratory, has been reassigned as the agency investigates the incident, two CDC scientists who are not authorized to speak with press told Reuters.

    • About Julie

      "Julie Steenhuysen has been covering health and science topics for Reuters for the past decade, first as a medical device correspondent, then as team leader for the equities team covering U.S. pharmaceuticals and healthcare companies. For the past 4 years, Julie has worked as U.S. health and science correspondent, focusing on coverage for a general news audience."
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