Workers scouring government labs in the wake of July discovery of mishandling of other infectious agents in federal facilities in the recent months have found over 6 improperly stored substances including plague causing bacteria and the deadly toxin, Ricin.
Officials at NIH said on Friday that in recent weeks, the search on sprawling Bethesda campus has turned up 5 different misplaced biological materials. All of them are termed as ‘Select agents’ and are quite dangerous. Government wants them to be stored in specially secured facilities. However, in these cases, the vials were in regular laboratory, often part of sample collections that date back decades.
Simultaneously, FDA found vials of Staphylococcal enterotoxin at a lab within the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, which isn’t registered for handling it.
Officials at both the agencies stated that the additional discoveries were promptly reported to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, and that no danger was posed to the employees.
The director of NIH’s office of research services, Alfred Johnson stated that these things were stored at locations where they shouldn’t have been stored. He also stated that research is conducted routinely at NIH about the most dangerous materials. All of these were found in containers that were intact and there have been no exposures.
3 most hazardous samples were found at NIH, in which 1000s of microbial samples from a collection dating back to 1950s are stored. 2 vials of the bacteria that cause plague were found.