US Admit FMD Lab Accidents

US - The Homeland Security this week announced that the only ever US laboratory to test the highly-contagious Foot and Mouth disease had experienced several accidents and near outbreaks.
calendar icon 16 April 2008
clock icon 1 minute read

This news comes in the same week that the Bush Administration announced that a new laboratory unit, studying Foot and Mouth disease, may move to mainland America near herds of livestock.

A 1978 release of the virus into cattle holding pens on Plum Island, N.Y., triggered new safety procedures, reported Usagnet. While that incident was previously known, the Homeland Security Department told a House committee there were other accidents inside the government's laboratory.

According to the Associated Press, the accidents are significant because the administration is likely to move foot-and-mouth research from the remote island to one of five sites on the U.S. mainland near livestock herds. This has raised concerns about the risks of a catastrophic outbreak of the disease, which does not sicken humans but can devastate the livestock industry.

Skeptical Democratic leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee demanded to see internal documents from the administration that they believe highlight the risks and consequences of moving the research. The live virus has been confined to Plum Island for more than a half-century to keep it far from livestock, the AP reports.

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