The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has closed its influenza laboratory after a cross-contamination occurred which allowed a strain of Avian influenza to be delivered to a poultry lab.
A culture of non-pathogenic avian influenza was unintentionally cross-contaminated at the CDC influenza laboratory with the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of influenza and shipped to a BSL-3 select-agent laboratory operated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the organization confirmed in a statement.
There were no exposures as a result of that incident but this prompted the organization to close the laboratory which will not reopen it until adequate procedures are put in place. Further investigation, review, and action is underway.
In a statement the CDC said it is also issuing, effective immediately, a moratorium on the movement (i.e., transfer inside or outside the agency) of biological materials (i.e., infectious agents, active or inactivated specimens) from BSL3 or BSL-4 facilities. The moratorium will remain in place pending review by an advisory committee.
An ongoing investigation has revealed that the health agency repeatedly failed to follow appropriate safety protocols in its labs that handle dangerous specimens.