BSL-4 Lab Worker - Photo Credit –USAMRIID
In a late in the day Christmas Eve announcement to the media (as of this writing I’ve not found anything on the CDC website), the CDC has reported a potential exposure of staff to the Ebola virus at one of their laboratories. When a full statement becomes a available I’ll post it. Until then we have this report from NBC News.
CDC Reports Possible Ebola Exposure at Containment Lab
A mistake at a CDC biocontainment lab may have exposed one technician, and possibly more, to the Ebola virus, federal health officials said Wednesday.
A sample of material that may have contained the virus was accidentally moved from a high-level containment lab to a lower-level lab this week at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, according to a statement from Sherri Berger, the agency's chief operating officer.
Berger said only one lab technician at the second lab worked with the sample but other staff had contact with the laboratory room where it was processed. The mistake involving a fixed, sealed plate was discovered Tuesday, but by then the sample had been destroyed and the lab decontaminated in routine procedures, Berger said.
This is unfortunately the third high-profile mishandling of a select pathogen at a CDC lab this year, with two previous incidents involving anthrax and H5N1 avian flu. Additionally, smallpox and other dangerous pathogens were found improperly stored at an FDA lab earlier this year (see FDA Statement On Additional 300 Vials Discovered At NIH Campus Lab).
Over the summer these incidents led to calls for stricter controls on laboratories, a Laboratory Bio-Safety Backlash, and house subcommittee hearings (see House Subcommittee Hearing on Biosafety).
The CDC responded to these incidents by temporarily halting the transfer of select pathogens between labs, conducting an extensive internal review, and promising new, more stringent safety protocols (see CDC H5N1 Incident & Lab Safety Progress Reports).
CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden is quoted today as saying he is troubled by this most recent incident, stating `"I have directed that there be a full review of every aspect of the incident and that CDC take all necessary measures"