Investigation finds more anthrax lapses at CDC

A new investigation has uncovered even more safety lapses at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) involving dangerous anthrax bacteria.

According to a congressional committee, federal officials found that CDC workers at one point stored anthrax in a hallway refrigerator with the key still in the lock. In another incident, some workers moved dangerous microbes in plastic Ziploc bags, violating federal safety rules.

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The federal investigation also found that CDC workers, including scientists who worked at the agency’s biodefense lab, were not properly trained in how to decontaminate lab areas.

The findings from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) were revealed in a memo from a congressional subcommittee that is probing reports of widespread safety lapses at the CDC involving anthrax and other dangerous diseases.

CDC Director Thomas Frieden has been called to testify Wednesday before the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, and is likely to face a barrage of tough questions from lawmakers.

“Each layer we peel back in this investigation seems to reveal a new instance of carelessness in the CDC’s management of dangerous pathogens,” said subcommittee Chair Tim Murphy (R-Pa.).

The latest revelations add to the troubles for the CDC following the recent mishandling of live anthrax at the CDC’s Atlanta campus. The CDC feared the incident could have exposed up to 80 of its workers to the deadly bacteria.

Last week, the CDC revealed another safety lapse involving a shipment contaminated with avian flu.

According to the latest report, the CDC did not have the clinical capacity to handle the dozens of workers that it feared may have come in contact with live anthrax. Instead, workers were sent home and told to look out for symptoms and some were not checked back on for five days

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