CDC: At least 11 biolab workers infected with pathogens between 2004 and 2010
The CDC announced the infections on Tuesday as part of a report on security measures instituted after the deadly anthrax attacks in 2001. None of the infected workers died and the infection rate was 1.6 per 10,000 workers, which is much lower that the general rate of occupational illnesses in scientific development and research facilities, Associated Press reports.
"If you look at the report as a whole, it's a success story," Robbin S. Weyant, the report's co-author, said, according to Associated Press. "We have about 10,000 people a year working in these laboratories. To have such a small number of confirmed infections over nearly a decade, I think, is quite good."
Weyant oversees the CDC regulation of approximately 70 select agents and toxins that are labeled a severe threat to human, plant or animal health.
Reporting requirements at biolabs were put into place after five people were killed and 17 sickened by anthrax sent through the mail in 2001.
The report determined that there were 88 incidents of lost pathogens, 87 of which were reconciled as bookkeeping errors. The other incident occurred in 2007 when a package of Valley fever, a rarely fatal condition, was damaged by a commercial courier, discarded and incinerated.
The 11 infections resulted from some of the 639 reported releases of pathogens.
"We're hoping that this data will lead us toward some additional safety recommendations in that environment that will reduce the potential for exposure (in those labs)," Weyant said, according to Associated Press.
The report appeared in the January issue of Applied Biosafety.