WASHINGTON — The recent scare involving smallpox at the National Institutes of Health is indicative of a larger problem, according to audits obtained by USA TODAY.
Among other things, the audits show there have been repeated lapses at high-level labs under control of the federal government, specifically from 2006 to 2009.
Concerns include lax training, inadequate security procedures and failure to keep proper inventory records for germs that are so dangerous they could potentially be used for bioterrorism.
Some information has been redacted, so it is not clear which specific labs were scrutinized.
However, it is clear all of the federal labs in the audits fall under the Department of Health and Human Services, USA TODAY reports.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and NIH are among agencies that are in that category.
In recent weeks, the CDC has faced intense criticism for mistakes involving anthrax and a particularly deadly strain of bird flu.
At the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland, workers found decades-old vials of deadly smallpox in a storage area. Some of the virus turned out to be still alive.
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It’s time for these animals’ annual checkup.