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Reports US

US stock market daily report (July 14, 2014, Monday)

July 15, 2014, Tuesday, 02:49 GMT | 21:49 EST | 07:19 IST | 09:49 SGT
Contributed by Millennium Traders


Federal laboratories have been found to contain more safety lapses with the handling of anthrax. According to documents released by lawmakers on Monday, violations consist of keys left in 'supposedly' locked refrigerators used to store anthrax as well as the use of disinfectants that had surpassed their 'best if used-by dates'.

On Wednesday, a hearing is scheduled by the subcommittee of the House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce about the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s mishandling of anthrax and a second deadly microbe - avian influenza. The subcommittee is expected to probe whether those bio-safety lapses have implications for federal oversight of "select agents," the most dangerous pathogens and the high-containment labs that handle them. Dr. Thomas Frieden, director at the CDC, is expected to be directly questioned about the serious safety oversights.

From June 23 through July 3, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) conducted investigations on the serious oversights by CDC. Results of the investigation were submitted to the CDC on July 10. The CDC released their report on the mishandling issues on July 11. CDC spokesman Tom Skinner said, "The reason we didn't reference the APHIS report in our report is we received it on the day ours was being prepared for release. Skinner added that the CDC intends to "work as quickly as we can to respond to the issues" - referencing violations found by APHIS.

According to the congressional document, APHIS found numerous violations of federal rules for handling anthrax and dangerous microbes during its investigation. One violation entailed the storage of anthrax in refrigerators located in an unrestricted hallway - with key to one supposedly locked unit with key in the lock. Another violation entailed two plastic Ziploc bags - which did not meet requirement as a durable containers - used to carry unidentified material from one CDC lab to another. Several containers of anthrax were found to be missing from their storage location. The APHIS inspection team had to track down the missing containers of anthrax and also found other samples of anthrax in an unlocked lab that had not received approval to handle select agents.

Once CDC researchers realized that viable anthrax had been transferred to a lab lacking the bio-safety equipment to handle it, workers in the receiving lab tried to decontaminate vials and bags that may have come in contact with the anthrax sample. Per the congressional report, the CDC workers "could not remember if they used expired bleach" to decontaminate the items. CDC workers cleared to work with anthrax and those in the bio-defense lab - per the congressional report - "had not been trained to decontaminate all relevant areas or properly use decontaminants." People were able to enter labs - without approval - which had received the live anthrax virus. Days passed before warning signs were posted of potential exposure to live anthrax.

The CDC's on-site clinic struggled to respond to workers who were potentially exposed to anthrax. The report noted that, CDC workers "left the clinic without knowing the extent of their risk," while some were not examined until five days later. Some workers were informed of symptoms of anthrax contamination instead of requiring them to seek professional assistance at the clinic.

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