CDC Shuts Down US Military’s Deadly Diseases Lab Over Safety Concerns

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has ordered temporary closure of a research facility at Fort Detrick in Maryland due to safety concerns. The lab handles some of the most dangerous pathogens and toxins in the world. 

The decision comes after an inspection in June found that the research lab failed to run sufficient systems that should decontaminate wastewater from the facility. The CDC suspended all research, including projects of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID). 

USAMRIID studies deadly diseases, including Ebola, anthrax and the bacteria that causes plague. Fort Detrick previously managed the military’s major biological weapons program. 

“Research is currently on hold,” USAMRIID said in a statement. One official said the suspension may take months until the CDC approves security and safety at the Fort Detrick research lab. 

There are no reports of public threats because of the security issues at the facility, Caree Vander Linden, a spokeswoman for USAMRIID, told The New York Times. She noted the lab did not leak or accidentally release dangerous material.

Meanwhile, the CDC did not release further information about the shut down. The agency cited “national security reasons” for the decision. 

Health officials first reported problems at Fort Detrick in mid-2018. Storms damaged a steam sterilization plant that laboratories at the base used to treat wastewater.

The base used a new decontamination system to replace the plant. However, the CDC said the laboratories failed to implement new procedures for decontamination and that the new system appeared had mechanical problems and leaks.

What Is Inside The Fort Detrick Research Lab

The facility conducts public and private research focused on germs and toxins that adversaries could use to attack U.S. citizens and the military. Researchers also examine disease outbreaks at the lab to find cures and preventions.

The government, academia and drug companies used the facility before the suspension of operations. Vander Linden said the shut down will affect major research efforts. 

Fort Detrick researchers have been studying 67 agents and toxins that the government determined as potential threats to humans, the environment and animals. 

virus Drug resistant infections have been a growing problem in the U.S. and across the globe. Pixabay