CDC resumes tuberculosis lab transfers halted after anthrax mishap




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. Centers for Control and Prevention on Thursday lifted a moratorium on transfers of inactivated materials from its clinical tuberculosis laboratory, after a bioterror lab mishap last month potentially exposed workers to live anthrax, prompting halt of transfers from other -containment labs.

tuberculosis lab, which last year processed more than 500 specimens from around United States, is first of the CDC’s -containment labs to be cleared to resume transfers of biological materials. Its other such labs remain on hold, the CDC said.

The CDC also announced on Thursday the of a new panel of experts who advise CDC’s director, Dr. Thomas Frieden, on safety issues and corrective actions for the agency’s labs.

The 11-member panel, scheduled to meet in August, is chaired by Joseph Kanabrocki, a microbiology and assistant dean for biosafety at the University of Chicago. Its co-chair is Dr. Kenneth Berns, a emeritus in the molecular genetics and microbiology department at the University of Florida’s of medicine in Gainesville.

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In the wake of the anthrax mishap, federal health officials launched a probe that uncovered other incidents, including one in which CDC scientists contaminated samples of low-pathogenic bird flu viruses with a highly pathogenic strain and in March shipped them to a Department of lab, where the viruses killed all the chickens exposed to them.

The tuberculosis lab not among those involved in recent incidents. Those labs – one for detecting bioterror agents and another that researches influenza – remain closed. No one appears to have been exposed or become ill as a result of the incidents.

The agency is now reviewing safety procedures at every -containment lab before allowing them to resume shipping materials to other labs. Labs that direct patient care are being treated as a priority.

The tuberculosis lab uses heat to kill bacteria sampled from . It sends the inactivated bacteria to a lower-level lab for genetic analysis to determine whether carry multi-drug resistant strains of tuberculosis, and which drugs most effectively treat them.

The lab had to lay a plan detailing safety procedures for each step of its inactivation process. Frieden, of the CDC’s internal working panel and the CDC’s new director of laboratory safety Dr. Mike Bell all reviewed and approved the plan, the CDC said. (Reuters)

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