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CDC incompetence on display in yet another laboratory error exposing scientists to deadly viral strains


Deadly virus

(NaturalNews) The past 12 months have not been good ones for the once-well respected Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as a series of accidents, missteps, mistakes and miscalculations have seriously undermined the public's confidence in the federal health agency.

The latest gaffe could have proven deadly -- and may still yet -- because it involved mishandling of the highly contagious Ebola virus.

As recently reported by The New York Times, a laboratory mistake at the CDC in Atlanta exposed a technician working there to the deadly virus which continues to ravage West Africa, federal officials have said.

The technician, who is currently showing no signs of infection, will be monitored for 21 days, as per standard protocol (though, as Natural News has reported, the incubation period for Ebola can be as long as 42 days).

"Unacceptable" pattern of behavior

News of the mistake prompted cries of concern and disbelief from some safety experts, the Times noted, adding that additional employees who went into the lab where the mistake took place were being looked at for potential exposure. Officials said the number of people who entered the lab was less than a dozen, and only the one worker is being actively monitored for exposure, Thomas Skinner, a spokesman for the agency, told the Times.

Reuters reported that the lone technician being monitored "may have been exposed... when working with Ebola specimens that were supposed to have been inactivated but which may instead have contained live virus."

Ron Klain, the outgoing Ebola czar appointed by President Obama last fall, called the incident "unacceptable." He said CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden promised him a report on the incident within a month.

He nevertheless praised the agency. "The American people should be very proud of the job that is being done in Atlanta by Dr. Frieden and the team at CDC," said Klain, a Democratic functionary who was once a top aide to Vice President Joe Biden.

But the agency has had a rough 2014, to be sure:

-- Regarding the Ebola outbreak in the U.S., initially the agency was handing to travelers returning from West Africa fliers instructing them to "call a doctor" if they felt ill, CNN reported. Also, Frieden made a number of gaffes, such as this one:

"Essentially any hospital in the country can safely take care of Ebola. You don't need a special hospital to do it."

Also, Frieden early on said that the virus could only be contracted through direct contact, though later he admitted that coughing and sneezing could spread it as well, The Huffington Post noted.

"One of the most deadly flu viruses known"

-- Over the summer, Frieden told a House panel that his agency "missed a critical pattern" when technicians mishandled live anthrax samples, exposing more than 80 workers when they were transferred between CDC labs in June.

But that wasn't the first time (or, as it turns out, the last time) such incidents occurred. As noted by The Washington Post, which was reporting on the anthrax incident:

As a result of the CDC's internal investigation, the agency disclosed last week that there had been four other incidents in the past decade when deadly pathogens were mishandled. None had been previously disclosed by the CDC.

-- The CDC also had a mishap involving a deadly flu virus as well. As reported by The Wall Street Journal, following the anthrax and flu strain accidents, the agency "temporarily halted the shipment of samples from its high-security laboratories and said it will review safety procedures with external advisors."

According to the paper, an agency lab that routinely works with flu viruses had accidentally cross-contaminated a low-pathogenic H9N2 virus sample with an H5N1 flu strain, which is one of the most deadly viruses known. That sample was then sent to a lab at the federal Department of Agriculture, where technicians there discovered the contamination.

Sources:

http://www.nytimes.com

http://www.nbcnews.com

http://www.naturalnews.com

http://www.cnn.com

http://www.huffingtonpost.com

http://www.washingtonpost.com

http://www.wsj.com

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