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CDC scientist secretly blended lethal flu virus into 'non-lethal' vials used in open experiments


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(NaturalNews) Details of another major safety breach at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have emerged after it was discovered that an agency worker carelessly sent a deadly strain of avian flu to the Department of Agriculture (USDA), supposedly by accident.

Reports indicate that a relatively benign strain of avian flu became contaminated with a much more virulent one after a CDC scientist ignored standard safety procedures, the latest in a string of recent safety violations that have threatened to unleash deadly pathogens.

Reuters reports that the lab worker, who has not been publicly identified, only spent about half of the amount of time required to handle the materials safely. As a result, the worker failed to prevent the deadly flu strain from somehow contaminating the less harmful variety, which was meant for testing on chickens -- or so the story goes.

CDC didn't report safety violation until many months later

By law, the CDC is required to report breaches such as this immediately after they occur. But according to reports, the agency waited several months before finally coming clean -- the safety breach occurred in January; officials say they learned about it May, and it was finally reported in July.

According to this report, the CDC sent the contaminated avian flu sample from its main campus near Atlanta, Georgia, to a USDA poultry lab in nearby Athens, Georgia. The shipment arrived in March, and researchers reportedly began using it on chickens in May.

What was believed to be H9N2, a low-pathogenicity strain, was quickly determined to be something else when an entire flock of test chickens suddenly dropped dead. A USDA scientist sequenced the genome of the virus and learned that it was actually H5N1, the deadly avian flu strain that the media says has killed hundreds of people since 2013.

Immediately after the discovery, USDA scientists basically quarantined the virus, handling it under stringent biosafety guidelines. No workers were infected, according to reports, but the issue quickly gained national attention with calls for someone to be held accountable.

"The matter needs to be referred for civil and/or criminal investigation," stated Richard Ebright, a biologist from Rutgers University in New Jersey who has testified before Congress.

CDC deliberately ignoring safety guidelines

When the CDC took to investigating the situation, it reported "a lack of sound professional judgment by those aware of the contamination." However, the agency claims that the failure was not deliberate, something Ebright says is hard to believe.

How did a CDC scientist manage to unpack H9N2 avian flu virus from Hong Kong and mix it with H5N1 avian flu virus from Vietnam, all on the same morning in just under one hour? This type of situation doesn't simply occur by accident, and it screams of foul play and a possible deliberate attempt to spread a pandemic pathogen.

The CDC admits that the situation is strange but insists that the lab worker simply rushed through a process that should have taken 90 minutes yet only took about 51 minutes. The worker, claims the agency, was trying to make a noon meeting, and in the process failed to follow proper guidelines.

As to why the worker didn't file the proper Form 3, which outlines the accidental release of a dangerous pathogen, CDC investigators claim he or she simply didn't realize that this process was necessary, another highly unlikely scenario.

"Are we really to believe that a scientist... working for a government biohazard lab DIDN'T know there was a form to [be] filled out if they screwed up on a hazardous substance?" asked one Yahoo News commenter.

Sources for this article include:

http://news.yahoo.com

http://www.reuters.com

http://news.sciencemag.org
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