CDC to crack down on laboratory security

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tightening its laboratory security measures in the wake of several major safety mishaps, Reuters reports.

The CDC has installed 67 cameras--at a total cost of $84,000--in key biosafety laboratories to allow outside supervisors to monitor technicians' adherence to protocol, especially when handling dangerous pathogens, according to the news agency. Last summer the CDC also updated its protocols to include a checklist of proper procedures in high-security labs.

The installation of cameras is in response to several recent safety breaches, the most high-profile of which led to the exposure of a lab worker to Ebola at an Atlanta biocontainment lab. Though there was no risk to the public and the worker did not show any symptoms, HealthDay reported, this was not the first incident at the Atlanta facility. In one case, scientists accidentally sent live anthrax to a lower-security lab, and in another, technicians sent a deadly form of bird flu to an external agency, according to the Reuters article.

During the stateside Ebola crisis, the CDC led the charge in requiring healthcare facilities to implement increasingly strict infectious-disease-containment protocols, FierceHealthcare reported. But the CDC also has been criticized for failing to provide adequate guidance for hospitals both before and during the outbreak, putting healthcare workers and patients in danger.

To address its internal security issues, in addition to installing cameras, the CDC has formed an agency-wide group to develop standardized safety training for lab workers, Reuters reported. "This is going to be a huge undertaking," Leslie Daupin, CDC's interim director of laboratory safety, told the news agency.

To learn more:
- read the Reuters report
- check out the HealthDay article