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CDC Anthrax Researcher Reassigned

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention takes its first disciplinary action in the wake of the biosecurity oversight that potentially exposed 75 agency scientists to anthrax.

By | June 24, 2014

Color-enhanced scanning electron micrograph shows rod-shaped Bacillus anthracis (yellow) and a red blood cell (red) in a monkey’s spleen.NIAID, ARTHUR FRIEDLANDERThe US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reassigned the head of its Bioterror Rapid Response and Advanced Technology Laboratory after as many as 75 agency scientists were exposed to anthrax, according to the Nature News blog. While the CDC has yet to confirm the employee’s name, an agency spokesperson told Nature that the incident occurred while CDC employees were using a new protocol to transport the bacteria for the first time and that US Department of Agriculture officials are still investigating what went wrong. Of all those potentially exposed, CDC spokesperson Thomas Skinner told Nature that an estimated seven had direct contact with the bacteria and were at high risk.

Rutgers University biosecurity expert Richard Ebright expressed concerns over CDC protocols in an interview with Nature, saying “changing one person doesn’t solve problems there,” and suggesting an agency-wide reassessment of safety training and management.

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