Via CIDRAP, Lisa Schnirring writes: CDC probe of H5N1 cross-contamination reveals protocol lapses, reporting delays. Excerpt:
In its ongoing response to lapses at two of its high-containment labs, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today released its internal report on inadvertent cross-contamination of a low-pathogenic avian flu sample with the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain, revealing likely departures from best practices and details about reporting delays.
The CDC also said it has responded to reports from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) on the H5N1 sample contamination incident as well as on an incident at another one of its labs involving anthrax samples and is taking further actions based on those findings. The select agent program at APHIS, part of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), regulates the domestic possession, use, and transfer of select agents and toxins that can pose a severe threat to public health or the US food supply.
In the wake of the two incidents, the CDC announced that it temporarily closed two of its labs, barred the movement of dangerous pathogen samples as it investigates the incidents, and announced a host of steps to shore up lab safety practices.
CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, said in today's statement that CDC is working intensely to ensure that its labs are models of scientific rigor and safety. "We will implement changes identified in these reviews—and more—so that we can continue the critical laboratory science needed to protect health in the US and around the world," he said.