KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

CDC Closes Labs After Anthrax, Flu Accidents

Federal government labs in Atlanta were temporarily shut after it was discovered they had improperly sent potentially deadly pathogens, including anthrax, botulism and virulent bird flue virus, to other labs.

The Washington Post: CDC Says It Improperly Sent Dangerous Pathogens In Five Incidents In Past Decade
Federal government laboratories in Atlanta improperly sent potentially deadly pathogens, including anthrax, botulism bacteria and a virulent bird flu virus, to other laboratories in five separate incidents over the past decade, officials said Friday (Sun and Dennis, 7/11).

The New York Times: CDC Closes Anthrax And Flu Labs After Accidents
After potentially serious back-to-back laboratory accidents, federal health officials announced Friday that they had temporarily closed the flu and anthrax laboratories at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and halted shipments of all infectious agents from the agency’s highest-security labs. The accidents, and the CDC’s emphatic response to them, could have important consequences for the many laboratories that store high-risk agents and the few that, even more controversially, specialize in making them more dangerous for research purposes (McNeil, 7/11).

The Wall Street Journal: CDC Closes Labs After Accidents With Flu, Anthrax Samples
CDC Director Tom Frieden on Friday said a lab that works regularly with flu viruses at the agency had accidentally cross-contaminated a low-pathogenic H9N2 virus sample with a strain of H5N1 flu, one of the most deadly viruses known. The sample was then shipped to a lab at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which discovered the contamination, he said. Dr. Frieden said he found the flu lab incident particularly distressing because it happened six weeks ago, yet he learned about it only this week (McKay, 7/11).

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