Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Mishandling of Germs on Rise at US Labs

Mishandling of Germs on Rise at US Labs

WASHINGTON (AP) — American laboratories handling the world's deadliest germs and toxins have experienced more than 100 accidents and missing shipments since 2003, and the number is increasing as more labs do the work.

No one died, and regulators said the public was never at risk during these incidents. But the documented cases reflect poorly on procedures and oversight at high-security labs, some of which work with organisms and poisons that can cause illnesses with no cure. In some cases, labs have failed to report accidents as required by law.

The mishaps include workers bitten or scratched by infected animals, skin cuts, needle sticks and more, according to a review by The Associated Press of confidential reports submitted to federal regulators. They describe accidents involving anthrax, bird flu virus, monkeypox and plague-causing bacteria at 44 labs in 24 states. More than two-dozen incidents were still under investigation. [Much more...]

See too:
Ebola Error in Wisconsin

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Now this:

"October 5, 2007
U. of California Hit With $450,000 Fine for Anthrax Mishap at Livermore Lab

The University of California has been fined $450,000 for mishandling an anthrax shipment from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the Los Angeles Times reported today. During the shipment, vials containing the anthrax microbe leaked. It was not immediately clear if anyone had fallen ill as a result of the leak.

The fine was the largest of 11 imposed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’s inspector general since 2003 for violations of federal rules governing select agents — microbes that are federally regulated because of their potential use as weapons.

The only other university fined was the University of South Carolina, which agreed to pay $50,000 last year for failing to maintain training and inspection records and for having inadequate security, biosafety, and incident-response plans.

Word of the California fine came as Congress was conducting a hearing on the safety of the nation’s biodefense laboratories. At that hearing, representatives of the Government Accountability Office said that federal oversight of the labs has been lax. —Kelly Field"