CDC report blames researcher's haste for bird flu virus mishandling

News outlets covered the release of the report Friday.

The Washington Post: CDC Scientist Took Shortcuts Handling Deadly Bird Flu Virus, Investigation Finds
An investigation into the mistaken shipment of deadly bird flu virus from a government laboratory earlier this year found that a scientist took shortcuts to speed up the work and accidentally contaminated the samples, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday. As a result, the CDC shipped a virulent avian flu virus rather than a relatively benign animal strain to a poultry research laboratory of the Department of Agriculture (Sun and Dennis, 8/15).

The Associated Press: Report: CDC Scientist Kept Quiet About Flu Blunder
No one was sickened by bird flu. But unsuspecting scientists worked with the viral mix for months before it was discovered. CDC officials have called the incident the most worrisome in a series of lab safety problems at the government agency, long regarded as one of the most respected public health agencies in the world. Earlier this summer, a lab mishandled anthrax samples and both the bird flu and anthrax labs were shut down. ... The lab scientist told investigators that the work was done in the proper sequence, but noted being rushed to finish the job and attend a meeting (Stobbe, 8/15).

Politico Pro: CDC Report Faults Flu Researcher's Haste for Safety Breach
That mistake on Jan. 17 was the first in a series of errors, which were not discovered until late May, two months after the contaminated culture had been shipped without any special precautions to a USDA poultry research lab. Even then, the report says, CDC personnel did not notify officials up the management chain until July 9. ... [The report] blames a lack of written records and failure to follow established best practices. The lab had no approved team-specific operating procedure for the work it was doing, the report adds (Levine, 8/17).

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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