Plague bacteria may have been shipped from government labs

An Army lab in Maryland may have mislabeled and shipped improperly stored samples of plague bacteria, according to a USA TODAY report.

The realization, made by the CDC during an investigation, led to an emergency ban on research on bioterror pathogens in nine Pentagon-run labs. However, this was done out of an abundance of caution, Pentagon officials told the USA TODAY. Officials also noted that the public, scientists and researchers who handled the vials are not in danger, because the plague bacteria were weakened.

This is the second mishap involving government labs shipping potentially dangerous substances this year: In May, news broke that an Army lab accidently shipped live anthrax samples to several labs in the U.S. and abroad.

Now, the CDC is investigating four military labs and the Defense Department's Clinical Reagents Program, which, according to the news report, offers a catalog of germs and other material that can be used to develop and test biodefense products. Labs are also undergoing a safety review, called for by the Pentagon.

In 2014, the CDC named lab safety as one of the top 10 important public health challenges.

More articles on lab safety:
5 things to know on how US military sent live anthrax to labs by accident
CDC to hire lab safety chief
CDC: 2014's top 10 challenging public health threats

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