The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has begun investigating four Pentagon labs belonging to the Defense Department under the suspicion that the labs have been mishandling potentially deadly germs while conducting bioterrorism research.
These germs aren’t anything like the four billion microscopic organisms found on kitchen dishcloths; they’re essentially as powerful as any gun or knife, and as the New York Times reported, the federal government has been researching these germs because they could be used as biological weapons. Currently there is no evidence that anyone has been harmed by the missteps, but officials are keen on emphasizing that “even seemingly small mistakes, like flaws in record-keeping, could have calamitous results.”
The organisms that were possibly mishandled include anthrax, plague, and other deadly viruses that cause encephalitis (an acute infection and inflammation of the brain which is rare but typically fatal).
The four Pentagon labs have halted all work until official reports on the possible mistakes have been released. One of the labs (the Dugway Proving Ground Life Sciences Test Facility) is located in Utah, while the other three labs are in Maryland (the Medical Analysis Heart, the U.S. Military Medical Analysis Institute of Infectious Ailments, and the Edgewood Chemical and Organic Heart).
According to the NY City News and the Statesman Tribune, the situation was discovered this past May when the Dugway lab accidentally shipped live anthrax to multiple labs in the U.S. and to seven different foreign labs within the past decade.
The CDC began carrying out spot checks on all Defense Department labs, and during these investigations it was discovered that four of the labs made labeling mistakes, specifically regarding specimens that were labelled as killed or inactive but were questionably alive.
All four labs appear to be cooperating fully with the latest investigations and remain closed until official status reports have been released.