Lab mishaps spark warning over ‘lethalized’ pathogens

A series of mishaps at federal laboratories in recent weeks highlights unsafe practices that unnecessarily put people at risk, a public health group said Monday

The discovery of decades-old vials containing the deadly smallpox virus at the National Institutes of Health campus, the potential exposure of 75 scientists at the Centers for Disease Control to anthrax and the addidental contamination of a flu sample with a dangerous H5N1 bird flu strain together reflect a worrisome trend, sayd Twila Brase, co-founder and president ofnonprofit Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom.

 “The American public should know the potentially deadly materials we are entrusting to either incompetent, hurried or unfocused government employees,” Brase said.

In particular, Brase raised concerns about government research involving efforts to lethalize pathogens — including the experimental creation of “superbugs.” 

Brase said congressional attention on the issue is warranted, given the trio of incidents.

“Americans must understand the dangers and implications of government scientists creating things we may not be able to kill but that could kill us,” she added. “All research is not good, positive or healthy. Some is downright frightening.”