CDC Director Frieden takes questions on response to biological incidents

Tom Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, expressed frustration at a press conference on Friday about three recent incidents involving dangerous biological agents in the U.S.

Frieden addressed the potential that CDC personnel were exposed to anthrax in Atlanta, an incident at the CDC's influenza laboratory and the discovery of smallpox in vials at a National Institutes of Health storage room.

"These events should never have happened," Frieden said. "I'm disappointed by what happened, and frankly, I'm angry about it."

The director outlined steps the CDC is taking to respond to the incidents, including a moratorium on the transfer of biological samples within or outside the CDC until a lab-by-lab assessment is complete.

Frieden answered questions relating to how the incidents could have happened at some of the world's top research facilities, and said the problem was systemic.

"The issue isn't about individuals doing the wrong thing," Frieden said. "The issue is about systems that aren't reliably preventing this from happening. And that's what we will make sure to implement."

Frieden also said that disciplinary actions in regards to the three incidents will depend on the outcome of an investigation that will recommend actions to be taken.

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National Institutes of Health

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