Report: CDC improperly handled, stored dangerous pathogens

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — New data shows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and several other government laboratories have improperly handled, stored and transported some of the most dangerous and deadly pathogens known to man.

It’s happened more than 20 times that investigators know of in recent years, and they think there could be even more incidents that went unreported. %



When Ebola-infected patients were transported to Atlanta for treatment in 2014 the government took extensive safety precautions. But new information from government investigators found that same year, a federal lab improperly handled the Ebola virus, mistakenly thinking a live sample of the deadly virus was inactive.

Nobody ever investigated the dangerous incident or took disciplinary action.

“I would be very concerned if I worked at one of the CDC labs,” said Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.

Congress is now investigating.

The CDC reports a total of 10 incidents with the mishandling of deadly pathogens since 2003, but government investigators found 11 more unreported incidents.


The CDC made headlines in 2014 for exposing more than 80 employees to live anthrax samples stored in unlocked refrigerators in open hallways, sometimes transported in Ziplock bags. %



"It's not just one and it's not just two, it is now a list and this shows the lack of a careful nature," Blackburn said.

CDC leaders testified before Congress that they've made a long list of changes since the anthrax incident. The CDC says later this year it will publish a final rule that requires increased oversight and monitoring of pathogens

“Work with select agents saves lives and we are balancing the needs for regulatory restraints with the benefits of scientific discovery,” said Dr. Daniel Sosin with the CDC.

Despite that, the problems allegedly continue.

Pennsylvania Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., says in recent months the CDC shipped dangerous live specimens of the Zika virus across the country from a West Coast lab to headquarters in Atlanta.

CDC and other government agencies have these deadly diseases to study for cures, treatments and for ways to counter potential biological attacks.

Blackburn says it's an important job, but it comes with responsibility to keep the specimens safe.