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Safety concerns force suspension of work at army pathogen lab

A United States Army research institute has been forced to suspend its work on high-risk pathogens after inspectors discovered inadequate decontamination and worker certification procedures.

The US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in Frederick, Maryland, had its permission to work with pathogens such as Ebola and plague revoked in July, after Centers for Disease Control and Prevention inspectors found its decontamination procedures to be inadequate, a spokeswoman confirmed to Research Professional News.

A steam sterilisation unit used to decontaminate wastewater from the lab failed in May 2018, and replacement chemical sterilisation procedures were not followed properly by staff, the spokeswoman said. She said that the chemical system “substantially increased the complexity of operating in containment laboratories” and that “mechanical issues and human error” were among the issues cited by the CDC when issuing the suspension.

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