We may not have to wait for a traveler from the Democratic Republic of Congo to visit the United States for an Ebola outbreak. It just might be brought to us by our own military along with the plague and other horrifying germs.
The laboratory at Fort Detrick, the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, has been sent a cease-and-desist order by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention after a second inspection showed sloppy handling of deadly germs and viruses.
The CDC inspected the military research institute in June and inspectors found several areas of concern in standard operating procedures, which are in place to protect workers in biosafety level 3 and 4 laboratories, spokeswoman Caree Vander Linden confirmed in an email Friday.
The CDC sent a cease and desist order in July.
After USAMRIID received the order from the CDC, its registration with the Federal Select Agent Program, which oversees disease-causing material use and possession, was suspended. That suspension effectively halted all biological select agents and toxin research at USAMRIID, Vander Linden said in her email. (source)
At this time “no infectious pathogens, or disease-causing material, have been found outside authorized areas.” The New York Times reports that the CDC could not provide more specific details due to “national security reasons.”
What was USMRIID doing wrong?
The laboratory, which is located in Frederick, Maryland, studies different deadly bugs for biological warfare purposes. They have failed inspection specifically by the Federal Select Agent Program, which oversees the possession, use and transfer of biological select agents and toxins that could potentially pose a severe threat to public, animal or plant health.
CDC spokeswoman Kathryn Harben wrote in an email that the Federal Select Agent Program doesn’t comment directly on whether a program is registered or what specific enforcement actions are taken.
“As situations warrant, [Federal Select Agent Program] will take whatever appropriate action is necessary to resolve any departures from regulatory compliance in order to help ensure the safety and security of work with select agents and toxins,” Harben said in the email.