Another day, another report of a potentially deadly lab mistake by the CDC. The latest one, involving bird flu, has prompted CDC chief Tom Frieden to shut down two research labs temporarily and to halt the shipment of risky germs, reports AP. The bird flu mistake actually happened in May but didn't get reported to senior CDC officials until this week. It seems a CDC lab contaminated a sample of relatively harmless H9N2 bird flu with the far more dangerous H5N1 strain before shipping it out to an Agriculture Department lab, reports the New York Times. The second lab realized the mistake quickly, and officials don't think anybody got contaminated.
But news of the mistake comes after dozens of CDC employees were potentially exposed to live anthrax because of improper handling. And then came the discovery of six old vials of smallpox in a National Institutes of Health lab that had no business storing them. It turns out that two of the vials had live virus. “These events revealed totally unacceptable behavior,” said Frieden, as quoted in the Washington Post. “They should never have happened. I’m upset, I’m angry, I’ve lost sleep over this, and I’m working on it until the issue is resolved.”