Health

Hundreds of Bioterror Lab Mishaps Cloaked in Secrecy

In this Feb. 5, 2010 file photo, a laboratory technician prepares samples of urine for doping tests during a media open day, at the King's College London Drug Control Centre, London. The world’s anti-doping authority is launching an “extraordinary” audit of Jamaica’s drug-testing agency following allegations that its policing of the island’s sprinting superstars all but collapsed in the months before they dazzled at the London Games, The Associated Press has learned. (AP Photo/Sang Tan, File)
(AP Photo/Sang Tan, File)

Alison Young, USA Today

 

ATLANTA (USA TODAY)–More than 1,100 laboratory incidents involving bacteria, viruses and toxins that pose significant or bioterror risks to people and agriculture were reported to federal regulators during 2008 through 2012, government reports obtained by USA TODAY show.

More than half these incidents were serious enough that lab workers received medical evaluations or treatment, according to the reports. In five incidents, investigations confirmed that laboratory workers had been infected or sickened; all recovered.

In two other incidents, animals were inadvertently infected with contagious diseases that would have posed significant threats to livestock industries if they had spread. One case involved the infection of two animals with hog cholera, a dangerous virus eradicated from the USA in 1978. In another incident, a cow in a disease-free herd next to a research facility studying the bacteria that cause brucellosis, became infected due to practices that violated federal regulations, resulting in regulators suspending the research and ordering a $425,000 fine, records show.


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