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CDC shuts down military virus lab after failed safety inspection

Published Aug 7th, 2019 1:34PM EDT

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When you’re handling some of the world’s most deadly viruses and bacteria, safety should always be a top priority, but apparently the staff of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Maryland, didn’t get that memo. The Centers for Disease Control has now shuttered the facility and forced a halt to all research after inspectors found multiple safety violations.

The CDC reportedly initiated the shutdown late last month and the facility has, for the moment, gone dark, as a result of having its registration with the Federal Select Agent Program suspended. This prevents the researchers from working with the deadly germs that they were studying.

As the Frederick News-Post reports, inspectors found multiple shortcomings in the procedures used by staff at the facility, as well as the facility’s systems, such as wastewater decontamination. The scientists at the lab had been working with some seriously scary material including the Ebola virus and various other potentially deadly bacteria.

Inspectors did not find any of the dangerous pathogens outside of the facility itself, so at the moment there doesn’t appear to be a risk to the public at large, but any lax procedures are a pretty big deal when you’re playing around with such nasty bacteria and viruses.

Officials are now coordinating efforts to bring the facility back within compliance, at which point it will need to regain its registration after inspections by the CDC and, more than likely, the U.S. Army. The process could take months, according to officials. Until then, any work requiring the use of controlled agents will be put on hold.