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Status Brief

Developmental Milestones/Developments to Date:

Current Assessment/State of the Field:




Altman, Lawrence, K., Santora, Marc, “Risk From Deadly Flu Strain Is Called Low,” NYT, April 14, 2005.

  1. Lab mistake contaminated specimen with dangerous 1957 strain.
  2. Mistake in sending out H2N2, Level 2 microbe subject to upgrade.

Flu, Canada, BSL, Lab Safety


Young, Alison, “Georgia Lab Workers Exposed to Bioterror Agent,Atlanta Journal Constitution, January 30, 2008.

  1. “Hundreds of laboratory workers across the country -including 57 in Georgia- were potentially exposed to a weakened bioterrorism agent when samples were mishandled as part of a voluntary readiness test, state and federal health officials said.”
  2. “At 16 of Georgia’s 27 clinical labs participating in the test, workers failed to follow proper handling procedures and were potentially exposed to a vaccine strain of ”Brucella abortus RB51.””
  3. “So far, the CDC identified 916 workers in 254 clinical labs who were potentially exposed to Brucella during the nationwide Laboratory Preparedness Survey last fall.”
  4. “Twice a year, labs that voluntarily participate in the program are sent samples of various disease-causin organisms.  SInce 2006, the tests have included weakened bioterrorism organisms after the labs said they needed more realistic exercises of their preparedness, CDC officials said.”
  5. “The testing kits included written instructions stating the samples should be handled inside a special safety cabinet and within the protective barriers of a Biosafety Level 3 lab.  Despiet these instructions, some lab workers handled the samples in high risk ways, even sniffing open culture plates as they sought clues to what was growing on them, records show.  Certain odors are associated with some bacteria.”

Brucellosis, Lab Safety, CDC, BSL, Emergency Response


Gregg, Kelsey, “Unauthorized Brucellosis Experiments, University of Wisconsin-Madison,” Posted May 21, 2010, Federation of American Scientists, Biosecurity Blog, Last checked 10/30/11.

  1. ”Professor of pathobiological sciences, Gary Splitter, DVM, PhD, was suspended from laboratory work above BSL-1 until 2013 because unauthorized work was conducted with an antibiotic-resistant strain of Brucella, a select agent, by his graduate student in 2007.”
  2. ”Brucella bacteria can cause the disease brucellosis, which presents as a prolonged non-specific febrile illness in humans accompanied by chills, sweats, headache, fatigue, myalgias (muscle pain), arthralgias (joint pain), and anorexia.”
  3. ”This unauthorized research is even more egregious because it was with an antibiotic-resistant select agent, making this research of dual use concern.”
  4. ”Dr. Splitter claims that the incident was the result of an understaffed biosafety committee and ‘The University of Wisconsin fail[ing] to provide the right education.’ Dr. Splitter, while culpable, may be right that this incident ‘… was a major meltdown by the university.’ Put together, the unauthorized work and a past case of brucellosis acquired in Dr. Splitter’s laboratory, indicate personal and systemic failures to educate laboratory personal about biosafety level procedures and regulations. This incident highlights the need for continued efforts to educate students and scientists alike about research of concern and general laboratory biosafety.”

Brucellosis, Misconduct, BSL, Dual use, Oversight, Biosafety

Editors, “Planned Malaysian Biolab Raises Security Concerns,” Global Security Newswire September 8, 2010. Last checked September 10, 2010.

  1. “Plans to construct a high-security biological research laboratory in Malaysia have caused some worry over possible proliferation of highly lethal disease materials, ProPublica reported yesterday.”
  2. “Maryland-based Emergent BioSolutions and Ninebio Sdn Bhd., which is funded by the Malaysian Health Ministry, in 2008 announced a joint plan to construct a large complex at an industrial site not far from Kuala Lumpur for ‘vaccine development and manufacturing.’”
  3. “Emergent is the producer of the only U.S.-licensed anthrax vaccine. The Emergent-Ninebio venture intends to manufacture halal-compliant vaccines for the international Muslim market. The complex is currently slated to begin work in 2013, according to an Emergent release.”
  4. “The two firms intend to construct a ‘biocontainment R&D facility that includes BSL … 3 and 4 laboratories,’ According to online architectural plans for the 52,000-square-foot complex.”
  5. “Biosafety Level 4 laboratories perform countermeasure research on diseases for which there are no known cures, such as the Ebola and Marburg viruses. There are fewer than 40 such facilities in the world and none in Malaysia. The nation has three BSL-3 laboratories, which handle potentially deadly pathogens like anthrax and plague.”
  6. “U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Vann Van Diepen said during a House panel hearing in March that a critical aspect of today’s biological weapon fears is ‘the growing biotechnology capacity in areas of the world with a terrorist presence.’”
  7. “Malaysia’s history with terrorism includes the 2002 bomb attack by Malaysian-based extremists from Jemaah Islamiyah that killed 202 people at a popular nightclub in Bali, Indonesia. Kuala Lumpur served as the ‘primary operational launchpad’ for al-Qaeda senior operatives planning the Sept. 11 attacks, according to the FBI. The Malaysian capital was also a key hub in the nuclear technology smuggling ring operated by Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan (see GSN, March 14, 2005).”
  8. “Security specialists argue that having a U.S. firm such as Emergent involved in Malaysia’s growing biotechnology industry would give Washington some degree of clout and authority over international biodefense work.”
  9. “Malaysian authorities want the high-tech laboratories to respond to local epidemics of diseases such as SARS and Japanese encephalitis in addition to advancing research on cures for biological materials that could be used in acts of terrorism.”
  10. “Kuala Lumpur has started to develop new biological security regulations that would meet U.S. standards. It has received assistance in the effort from the U.S. Energy Department’s Sandia National Laboratories, ProPublica reported.”
  11. “…and monitoring of biological manufacturing installations under the Biological Weapons Convention. The United States and Russia, however, are against site inspections and the likelihood of more effective oversight controls being put into effect is not known.”
  12. “‘We currently do not have [BSL-4] labs in Malaysia but we would be happy to collaborate with the government of Malaysia on biosurveillance, safety and security in the future,’ a Defense Department spokesman said (Coen/Nadler, ProPublica, Sept. 7).”

BSL, Malaysia, Vaccination, Nonproliferation, Bioterrorism, Public Health, Military, State Department


Schneidmiller, Chris, “Pakistan Sought U.S. Assistance Against Biothreats, Cable ShowsGlobal Security Newswire, Feb. 8, 2011.

  1. “Pakistan in 2008 discussed with U.S. officials the prospect of establishing a system to ensure militants could not obtain jobs in the South Asian nation’s burgeoning disease research sector that might give them access to potential bioterror agents, according to a diplomatic dispatch made public last week (see GSN, June 30, 2010).”
  2. “The U.S. State Department’s Biosecurity Engagement Program since 2007 has supported efforts by the Pakistani government to ensure “safe, secure and sustainable” public health operations, the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad said in a leaked document.”
  3. “A number of Pakistani officials by early the next year were seeking closer ties with the diplomatic office and assistance with construction of Biosafety Level 3 laboratories, which work with disease agents that can cause serious illness or death.”
  4. “‘The executive director of Pakistan’s National Institute of Health also expressed interest in a personnel reliability program to screen for “extremists” or other groups looking to gain access to pathogen collections,’ according to the embassy dispatch posted on the website of the London Telegraph.”
  5. “The document also indicates that U.S. officials noted security concerns and subsequent improvements during three visits to the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council facility in the capital city. ‘PARC houses a full range of viral and bacterial pathogens, including dangerous agents such as anthrax, FMD (foot and mouth disease), brucellosis and highly pathogenic avian influenza,’ the embassy said.”
  6. “‘Virtually no biosecurity measures were observed during March and June 2007 visits to PARC, but by early February 2008, dedicated safety officers and improved security practices were in place,’ it added.”
  7. “Potential threats posed by radicals operating within the Pakistani establishment were highlighted by the assassination last month of Punjab state Governor Salman Taseer by one of his bodyguards (see GSN, Jan. 11).”
  8. “‘The Department of State and Pakistan are currently cooperating on a wide range of projects in the area of the biological sciences, including projects to improve disease diagnostics and disease surveillance in the public health sector,’ according to the statement. ‘U.S. and Pakistan strategic dialogue embodies a commitment to a strong and productive bilateral relationship and partnership for long-term results based on shared democratic values, mutual respect, trust and interests.'”

Pakistan, Japan, BSL, State Department, Personnel Reliability




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“Transmission Studies Resumefor Avian Flu,” ”Science Express” – Letters, January 23, 2013.

[[Scientific Self-Governance]], [[Dual Use]], [[Flu]], [[Biosafety]], [[Biosecurity]], [[WHO]], [[Open Science]], [[Oversight]], [[Public Health]], [[Canada]], [[Risk]], [[BSL]], [[Pandemic]]
“NIH panel supports stronger safeguards for H5N1 research,” January 25, 2013, *[[Oversight]], [[Biosafety]], [[BSL]], [[Law]], [[Flu]], [[Public Health]], [[Scientific Self-Governance]]


“CDC Lab Determines Possible Anthrax Exposures: Staff Provided Antibiotics/Monitoring,” June 19, 2014.

[[Anthrax]], [[CDC]], [[ Lab Safety]], [[BSL]]
“Exclusive: U.S. government scientists retrace events leading to anthrax breach,” June 27, 2014. Available at [] last checked June 29, 2014. *[[Anthrax]], [[Lab Safety]], [[CDC]], [[Oversight]], [[Select Agent]], [[BSL]]