CDC Lab Director Reassigned amid Anthrax Scare
CDC Director Reassigned
Two CDC scientists told Reuters that Michael Farrell, head of the CDC’s Bioterror Rapid Response and Advanced Technology Laboratory has been reassigned amid an investigation of how workers were possibly exposed to live anthrax bacteria. News broke last week that as many as 84 scientists and staff at CDC labs in Atlanta may have been exposed to the deadly bacteria.
The CDC has said that at some point between June 6 and June 13, workers in a high-security lab were testing a new protocol for killing the bacteria before shipping the samples to two lower-security labs. Workers in the less secure facility, not properly equipped to handle live anthrax, received the sample tubes and agitated them before opening the lid. The possible exposure was first recognized on June 13.
The CDC has noted the risk for exposure is considered slight. On June 18, scientists took samples from all surfaces in the labs that may have been contaminated; so far, the samples have been negative, but the CDC will continue to monitor them for bacteria growth.
Lapse in Informing CDC Workers
On Friday, CDC staff in adjacent labs complained that the agency was slow in informing them of the potential risk. An e-mail to CDC staff from Director Dr. Thomas Frieden apologized about the delay.
The CDC has said the 84 workers exposed are being offered 60-day treatments of ciprofloxacin and injections of the anthrax vaccine. An investigation of the possible exposure is being conducted by both the CDC and the FBI.