Global Security Newswire
Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues
U.S. Lab's Avian Flu Mishap May Remain a Mystery
A U.S. agency said it "may never know" how a hazardous type of avian influenza was sent to another site alongside a more benign strain, Reuters reports.
The more virulent virus might have been used by mistake or placed with the safer form via an unclean tool, but every virus culture involved in the March lapse "likely has been discarded," according to Monday comments by Tom Skinner, a spokesman for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "We may never know exactly how cross-contamination occurred."
The center recently revealed the accidental transfer in a probe of a separate lapse, which led to scores of people at its Atlanta headquarters being placed on watch for potential anthrax infection.
The avian flu virus did not leap to any humans as a result of the incident, but CDC Director Thomas Frieden said the agent's threat to public health made its release "the most distressing" of several safety breaches at the center.
The health agency's influenza scientists found out about the accidental shipment in May. The compromised flu cultures went to the Agriculture Department, where chickens under study died unexpectedly.
Six additional weeks passed before top CDC officials learned about the breach, resulting in an Agriculture Department audit that wrapped up last Friday. The cause of the weeks-long reporting delay remains under examination.
The agency previously responded to the anthrax and influenza incidents by halting operations at two involved facilities. It also paused transfers of biological materials out of sensitive CDC sites prior to the completion of a re-assessment of protective protocols.
Note to our Readers
GSN ceased publication on July 31, 2014. Its articles and daily issues will remain archived and available on NTI’s website.
May 23, 2014
The UNSCR 1540 Resource Collection examines implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540, which requires all states to implement measures aimed at preventing non-state actors from acquiring NBC weapons, related materials, and their means of delivery. It details implementation efforts in all of the regions and countries of the world to-date.
This article provides an overview of the United States’ historical and current policies relating to nuclear, chemical, biological and missile proliferation.