Life as an Extreme Sport

June: National Ship Live Anthrax Month!

Okay, I know we’re a bit ahead of June, but we’re within shipping for June, right? And at this point, a rather concerning pattern of “shipping live anthrax” is developing. Yep! It’s that time again! Er, yet another mishap involving a lab sending a viable select agent to someone who shouldn’t have it. Er, someones. In this case, an unknown number of private commercial labs in nine states. NINE! And that would be alarming in and of itself, without that whole one year ago gift that keeps on giving. Or the previous Oakland Children’s Hospital incident in 2004. Well. I guess in defense of the CDC, who owns the previous mishaps, this was a Department of Defense lab “mishap.” Very seriously, it appears there’s an issue here beyond “oh oops, culture of carelessness” – we have three clear and separate incidents of live anthrax being shipped out to people who

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Ziploc: There’s No Better Way to Protect Your Select Agent Investment

A lot of interesting testimony came out of yesterday’s House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing, which was titled “Review of CDC Anthrax Lab Incident,” but broadly covered the numerous slapstick-‘cept-it-ain’t-funny errors around dangerous pathogens research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For those just joining the conversation, these hilarious mishaps have included leaving activated anthrax in unlocked, unsecured refrigerators; mixing high pathogenicity avian influenza with low pathogenicity avian influenza and then shipping it over to the US Department of Agriculture in the worst version of novelty surprise in a can ever; and using ziploc bags to transport petri dishes between labs. And as an added bonus, there was some discussion about the broader issues of the proliferation of biosafety laboratories working on select agents. In particular, the statement of Nancy Kingsbury, PhD, the Managing Director, Applied Research and Methods, at the Government Accountability office, is

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Remaining Inaugural Members of NSABB Dismissed Last Night

It’s not exactly been what one would call a banner month for the National Institutes of Health or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the last week and change, it’s been revealed that oops, the CDC completely screwed up how it handles anthrax and possibly exposed 86-odd people to anthrax and they accidentally shipped out H9N2 that had been contaminated with H5N1. Then, this morning, a study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service–a study that the CDC has known about since July 10–revealed such charming details as anthrax being stored in refrigerators in an unrestricted hallway with the key to one sitting in its lock. (I hope you weren’t planning on sleeping ever again.) And of course, in case any of that isn’t close enough to a Richard Preston novel, there was the whole “forgetting those vials of smallpox in cold storage”

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