LOS ANGELES — In New York the Director of the CDC resigns after his recent exposure to an Anthrax scare in 3 different labs and mutated strain of bird influenza.
Michael Farrell was head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lab since 2009. He submitted his resignation Tuesday, the spokesman said.
Farrell was reassigned following an incident last month at an Atlanta lab that handles bioterrorism agents. The lab was supposed to completely kill anthrax samples before sending them to two other CDC labs that had fewer safeguards. But the higher-security lab did not completely sterilize the bacteria.
Dozens of CDC workers were potentially exposed to anthrax. No one got sick. But an internal investigation found serious safety lapses, including use of an unapproved sterilization technique and use of a potent type of anthrax in an experiment that did not require a live form of the germ.
Skinner declined to answer questions about what blame has been placed on Farrell in the events that led to the error. He also did not say whether Farrell was asked to resign.
The CDC fell under a harsh spotlight following the incident and the subsequent disclosure of another safety breach at the agency’s vaunted influenza laboratory. In that incident, relatively harmless bird flu virus was accidentally contaminated with a much deadlier strain. The contaminated virus was then sent to a lab run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The contamination was discovered in May, but the incident was not reported to CDC’s top management until last week. source:
No one has been reported infected. But CDC Director Tom Frieden has said the second incident was particularly worrisome because flu, unlike anthrax, is a germ that can potentially spread easily from person to person.
Anthrax is a deadly infection caused by the spore-forming bacillus anthracis, more often found in cows and sheep than humans. CDC is giving potentially exposed workers protective antibiotics and doesn’t believe other CDC staff, family members or the general public are at risk, Skinner said.
Anthrax was highlighted as a potential weapon of mass destruction in 2001 when mail laced with the spores was sent to media organizations and the offices of some U.S. senators. Five people died after the bioterrorism incident. – See more
Anthrax can also spread to farm workers or others who are exposed to diseased animals. The bacteria can infect the lungs or digestive tract, though most infections start when the bacterial spore penetrates the skin. It can also be contracted by eating diseased meat, according to the CDC.
People exposed to it are typically treated with antibiotics, including Bayer;s Cipro, though the medicine can’t disable the toxins produced by the bacteria.
GlaxoSmithKline’s raxibacumab was approved in 2012 to treat anthrax, in combination with antibiotics, for people with an inhaled form of the infection. The medicine can also be given as a preventive option to those who have been exposed to bacillus anthracis.
Emergent Biosolutions Inc. produces BioThrax, an anthrax vaccine held as part of the Strategic National Stockpile. It plans to file for U.S. approval by the end of the year to use the vaccine to prevent infection after people have been exposed to the bacteria. It is also developing a second vaccine called PreviThrax.