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CDC discovers its own researchers were accidentally exposed to Ebola in the lab


Ebola

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(NaturalNews) Another major safety breach has occurred at a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) testing laboratory in Atlanta, Georgia. At least one technician working in a Biosafety Level 4 CDC facility -- Level 5 is the highest -- may have been exposed to the Ebola virus after specimens of the pathogen were mistakenly shipped to the wrong location.

The error occurred on Monday, December 22, reports The Washington Post, when a less-hazardous material sample was somehow swapped during shipment with a sample containing Ebola. The former ended up in the Level 4 facility, while the Ebola sample ended up in a lower-level facility down the hall.

An employee who discovered the Ebola sample inside a freezer the following day immediately notified CDC superiors, who shut it down and launched an investigation. The lab was decontaminated, and the samples were destroyed, followed by the lab being decontaminated a second time. All transfers to and from the lab have ceased while an internal review is conducted.

This higher-security lab had previously been conducting diagnostic tests for Ebola, many hundreds of which had taken place since July. Now that the lab has been shuttered, all such activity is now taking place in a separate lab, according to Stuart Nichol, a top CDC official.

"Such events like this are absolutely unacceptable even once," stated Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, during a recent interview.

Samples were color-coded: how was mix-up even possible?

According to the CDC, Biosafety Level 4 labs are highly controlled environments where, ideally, not a single pathogenic particulate can escape. All personnel must undergo extensive training before being allowed to work in one, and detailed logbooks must be kept that outline not only who enters and leaves these special facilities, but also what materials and supplies are transferred in and out of them.

Part of this process involves special color-coded labeling that designates which products and samples are intended for which biosafety facilities. In this case, the Ebola sample was clearly labeled for the Biosafety Level 4 facility, while the other sample was labeled for the lower-level facility -- it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this one out.

And yet, somehow, this very simple procedure was completely botched, and discovered on Christmas Eve, to boot. The individual who discovered it has yet to show symptoms of infection, reports indicate, but is still being monitored for the standard 21 days before being given a clean bill of health.

"Only one technician was exposed," stated Ron Klain, head of the Obama Administration's Ebola response team, to CBS' Face the Nation. "So far she's showing no signs of having the disease. She's being monitored every day."

12 other CDC workers may have been exposed to Ebola sample

Meanwhile, the CDC is trying to save face, with CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden promising to report on the progress of the investigation in one month.

He and others at the agency insist that the general public isn't at risk of contracting Ebola since only one worker was exposed, but The Washington Post says that as many as a dozen other people may have encountered the wrongly shipped Ebola sample. Their status has yet to be reported.

"To err is to be human," added Osterholm about the incident. "We expect that to happen in any kind of high-tech setting. So what you do is build in a set of procedures and checks and balances. They need to be in place to account for human error."

Sources for this article include:

http://www.washingtonpost.com

http://21stcenturywire.com

http://www.cdc.gov[PDF]

http://www.nbcnews.com

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