Federal agencies

CDC forms laboratory safety workgroup

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Atlanta – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has formed an external laboratory safety workgroup in response to recent incidents involving anthrax and bird flu.

Announced July 24, the group will provide advice and guidance to CDC Director Thomas Frieden and new Director of Laboratory Safety Michael Bell. Other functions include identifying training and oversight needs for lab safety, reviewing and providing input on corrective actions for CDC labs, and prioritizing implementation of additional safeguards across all CDC labs.

The 11-member group, composed of college professors and health leaders, is scheduled to meet for the first time in early August and will meet as frequently as needed, CDC stated in a press release.

On July 11, CDC immediately stopped shipment of high-hazard biological materials – pending review from an advisory committee – after incidents of anthrax exposure and shipment of bird flu. No illnesses have been reported.

In addition, the agency announced July 24 it has resumed transfer of inactivated materials out of its clinical tuberculosis lab while other high-containment laboratories remain closed.