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April 13, 2005

That Deadly Flu Virus

I heard on the radio and t.v. this morning about a deadly flu virus having been shipped accidentally to laboratories around the world. Of course, my morning news sources being NPR and a local t.v. news program, neither one explained how the virus got shipped, only that the World Health Organization and the CDC wanted the labs to immediately destroy the samples. According to "Deadly Flu Strain Shipped Worldwide: Officials Race to Destroy Samples," by Rob Stein and Shankar Vedantam with contributions from David Brown and Lucy Shackelford in WaPo, the strains were mislabelled at Meridian Bioscience.

The problem arose when a private company, Meridian Bioscience Inc. of Cincinnati, sent a panel of virus samples to about 3,700 laboratories, some in doctors' offices, to be tested as part of routine quality-control certification conducted by the College of American Pathologists. An additional 2,750 laboratories, all in the United States, received the samples as part of other certification processes and were asked to destroy them, CDC spokesman Dan Rutz said.
It is not clear whether the label mistake was made at Meridian or at another company from whom the samples were bought.

Thanks goes to Canadians at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, Manitoba who identified the deadly strain on March 25. Canadian officials notified WHO and the CDC last Friday. I'm unclear why it took them two weeks to get WHO involved, but there you go.

Posted by cj at April 13, 2005 1:01 PM

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