Fort Detrick implements biolab safety precautions

Officials with the U.S. Army will be implementing safety recommendations made by the National Academy of Sciences for the biolabs at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Maryland.

Col. John Skvorak, commander of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, addressed local leaders Monday and discussed changes that have been made and that are in the works, reports.

The recommended changes include an assessment of the environmental impact study for a lab construction project as well as operating procedures for the new lab, emergency management and communication with the public.

“The first recommendation they make is my favorite one, continue to set the high standards for safety, security and biosurety,” Skvorak told “That had to be our goal all along, and it is...I've said from day one as commander, the most important responsibility I have is the safety and security of the folks that work at USAMRIID.”

Skvorak said USAMRIID has also made several changes based on lessons learned from a lab-acquired infection which occurred in November when a lab worker was exposed to tularemia. Skovrak said safety equipment issues have been addressed and that illness reporting requirements have been implemented.

Skovrak said that the issue of emergency management may be a little trickier, as USAMRIID already hosts quarterly training sessions with doctors at the Frederick Memorial Hospital.

“I've tested this out, I've called our security office after hours and told them I was an FMH provider and had a question, and within minutes I was talking to somebody from our Special Immunization Program clinic,” Skvorak told “I think it's just important that the docs know, at Frederick Memorial and in the community, that they are free to make those kinds of contacts.”

Skovrak said he will meet with the Board of Aldermen and the Board of County Commissioners on June 17 to discuss the academy's recommendations. He will also participate in a Fort Detrick community meeting on June 21.