Federal officials okay emergency transport plans for infected workers

Federal officials from the National Institutes of Health have given the green light to emergency plans to transport laboratory workers potentially infected with some of the world’s deadliest diseases 40 miles down Interstate 270 in cases of exposure.

Workers at an integrated research facility at the NIH National Interagency Biodefense Campus at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Maryland, would be taken to the agency’s main campus and Special Clinical Studies Unit in Bethesda, Maryland, by ambulance with the support of local authorities, the Associated Press reports.

The Fort Detrick facility contains bio-safety level-2, bio-safety level-3 and  bio-safety level-4 laboratories as well as animal research facilities used to conduct biodefense and emerging diseases research.

Critics fear that, should the ambulance meet with an accident, dangerous pathogens could be released into the local atmosphere. The NIH responded that, should there be an infection at Fort Detrick, local hospitals would not be prepared and could, likewise, support the spread of the infection, the Federal Register reports.

If necessary for the public’s protection, the NIH said, any patients could be transported on stretchers encased in vinyl and ventilated through high-efficiency filters.

The NIH concluded that any risk involved in transport was negligible in accordance with federal regulations set forth by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and any transport would be coordinated with the Frederick County Police, Montgomery County Police and the Maryland State Police.

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National Institutes of Health

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