Labs under investigation for mishandling bioterrorism drugs

Defense Department labs are being investigated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for mishandling deadly germs that are used in bioterrorism.

The situations being investigated include anthrax, plague and viruses that cause encephalitis. These are studied by the military as a defense mechanism against potential use of biological weapons, according to the New York Times.

At this time, there is no evidence that anybody has been harmed by the errors being investigated. And there is also so risk to the public, according to officials. But bioterrorism experts are saying that there should be absolutely zero tolerance because the organisms are very dangerous. Even with the smallest of mistakes, results could be monumental.

The secretary of the Army on September 2 demanded that all four of the labs stop their work immediately with the dangerous microbes that were classified as “select agents” due to the high risk of danger.

The labs are Dugway Proving Ground Life Sciences Test Facility in Utah as well as three labs in Maryland, the Edgewood Chemical and Biological Center, the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases and the Naval Medical Research Center.

Spokesman Jason McDonald said that the Dugway incident led the CDC to do spot-checks at other Defense Department labs.

“Inspectors found some labeling issues,” Mr. McDonald said.

He said that questions were asked as to whether or not certain specimens labeled killed and harmless could actually contain live organisms.

Concern was also ignited around whether active encephalitis viruses could have been shipped as if they were not harmless.

“C.D.C. is investigating those transfers to ensure that there was no risk to those that handled this material or to the public,” Mr. McDonald said.

Since the investigation is still happening, the CDC was not granted interviews with any of the scientists who performed the inspections, according to Mr. McDonald.

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