2-Jan-15 10:00 AM  CST

Mishandling of Ebola Virus at the CDC

Once again the Ebola virus is making headlines, and this time it is at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A recent report from the CDC states that a laboratory technician employed by the CDC may have accidently been exposed to the Ebola virus due to mishandling of laboratory samples. The laboratory technician has been quarantined for 21 days as a precaution. At the time of the possible exposure there were less than a dozen other technicians working within the area, and they will be monitored for any signs of the virus.

This latest news concerning Ebola questions the safety measures used in the laboratory setting. The CDC is well known throughout the World as a leader in disease control and prevention. Safe handling of deadly disease states such as Ebola are essential for preventing further exposure. This most recent mishandling comes a few months after samples of anthrax and flu viruses were also mishandled at the CDC, putting into question the integrity of safety measures.

This most recent error at the CDC happened when samples of the live Ebola virus were mistakenly taken to a department that was not equipped to handle live viruses. As a result of this error a laboratory technician, who thought they were working the killed Ebola virus, may have been exposed to the virus. Technicians working with the killed Ebola virus wear gloves and gowns, but no face shields. Since the technician though they were working with the killed virus no face shield was worn, which means exposure may have occurred. As a precautionary measure the technician has been quarantined.

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 7,000 people primarily in West Africa. Approval of a vaccine to prevent further exposure of the disease seems to be close at hand, but safe handling of the virus is still essential.





Chen, C. (2014) “Ebola sampling mishandled by the CDC, exposing lab worker to virus”, Bloomberg News, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-12-24/ebola-sample-mishandled-by-cdc-exposing-lab-technician-to-virus.html, retrieved 26.December 2014

Grady, D. and McNeil, D., (2014) “Ebola sample is mishandled at CDC lab in latest error”, The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/25/health/cdc-ebola-error-in-lab-may-have-exposed-technician-to-virus.html?ref=health&_r=0, retrieved 26.December 2014

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Source: Sandy Andrews  

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