The Army biowarfare lab that tests pathogens like Ebola and the plague failed a safety inspection

news

A sign on the door of a Biosafety Level 4 laboratory at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in Fort Detrick, Md., Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2011

(Associated Press/Patrick Semansky)

Research at an Army lab that tests infectious diseases like the Ebola virus has been temporarily shut down after a federal agency found safety concerns within the facility, so that's exciting to think about.


Research conducted by the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) was halted after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that the lab "failed to meet biosafety standards," as first reported by The Frederick News-Post.

The research that has been suspended involves "select agents," the New York Times reports, including the plague, Ebola, smallpox, and other pathogens the government has found to have "the potential to pose a severe threat to public, animal or plant health or to animal or plant products."

The CDC inspected the military research institute in June and found "several areas of concern in standard operating procedures, which are in place to protect workers in biosafety level 3 and 4 laboratories," USAMRIID spokeswoman Caree Vander Linden told the News-Post.

According to the CDC, things studied in a biosafety level 3 lab "can be either indigenous or exotic, and they can cause serious or potentially lethal disease through respiratory transmission."

Biosafety level 4, on the other hand, is the "highest level of biological safety," per the CDC, handling agents which pose the highest risk of infection that is "frequently fatal." At USAMRIID, researchers were working on the Ebola virus in the biosafety level 4 lab.

The CDC found that at the lab lacked periodic recertification training for personnel who worked in the biocontainment laboratories. In addition, there was a "failure to follow local procedures" and a wastewater decontamination system deemed below standards, the News-Post reported.

When the lab received its cease and desist letter in July, researchers were working on agents that cause a rare infectious disease, tularemia, as well as Venezuelan equine encephalitis, per the News-Post.

Oh, and also the plague.

Fortunately, Vander Linden told the Times that while the CDC found leaks, they were inside the lab, meaning that no pathogens has escaped the lab into the outside world.

Employees of the lab are still working on some other projects, according to the Times, just not on those "select agents."

"USAMRIID will return to fully operational status upon meeting benchmark requirements for biosafety," Vander Linden told the News-Post. "We will resume operations when the Army and the CDC are satisfied that USAMRIID can safely and consistently meet all standards."

USAMRIID has not yet responded to additional inquiries from Task & Purpose, but as of now it seems unlikely that society as we know it will be brought to its knees by a pathogen somehow freed from its laboratory prison.

Enjoy your weekend!

Jason Venne (Hampden Superior Court)

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — A woman has filed a civil suit against a former member of the 104th Fighter Wing of the Air National Guard, saying she has suffered emotional distress and "a diminished capacity to enjoy life" in the years since he used a hidden camera at Barnes Air National Guard Base to record explicit images of her.

Former Tech Sgt. Jason Venne, 37, pleaded guilty in February to six counts of photographing an unsuspecting person in the nude and seven counts of unlawful wiretap. He admitted putting a camera in the women's locker room at the Westfield base, recording images and video between 2011 and 2013 when he worked there as a mechanic.

Read More Show Less
(DoD photo)

Five people have been indicted in federal court in the Western District of Texas on charges of participating in a scheme to steal millions of dollars from benefits reserved for military members, U.S. Department of Justice officials said Wednesday.

Read More Show Less
In this March 24, 2017, photo, bottles of hemp oil, or CBD, are for sale at the store Into The Mystic in Mission, Kansas. (Associated Press/The Kansas City Star/Allison Long)

Editor's Note: This article by Patricia Kime originally appeared onMilitary.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

As the military services each roll out new policies regarding hemp-derived products like cannabidiol, or CBD, the Defense Department is not mincing words.

"It's completely forbidden for use by any service member in any of the services at this point of time," said Patricia Deuster, director of the Human Performance Laboratory at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland.

The warning, along with the policies issued recently by the Air Force, Coast Guard and Department of the Navy, comes as CBD is becoming increasingly ubiquitous across the country in many forms, from coffee additives and vaping liquids to tinctures, candies and other foods, carrying promises of health benefits ranging from pain and anxiety relief to sleeping aids and inflammation reduction.

Read More Show Less

The Navy has fired five senior leaders so far in August – and the month isn't even over.

While the sea service is famous for instilling in officers that they are responsible for any wrongdoing by their sailors – whether they are aware of the infractions or not – the recent rash of firings is a lot, even for the Navy.

A Navy spokesman said there is no connection between any of the five officers relieved of command, adding that each relief is looked at separately.

Read More Show Less
Then-Vice Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville. (U.S. Army/Spc. Matthew J. Marcellus)

After months of focusing on modernization priorities, Army leadership plans to tackle persisting personnel issues in the coming years.

Acting Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said Tuesday at an event with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies that what people can to hear service leadership "talk a lot about ... our people. Investing in our people, so that they can reach their potential. ... We are a people organization."

Read More Show Less