Flu sample mishap

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted May 2, 2005

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Laboratories in the United States and several other countries responded to appeals by public health authorities and began destroying samples of a potentially dangerous strain of H2N2 flu virus incorrectly included in a proficiency panel.

The virus, which was responsible for the Asian flu pandemic of 1957, is not believed to have escaped into the community, said Julie Gerberding, MD, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The virus was sent to more than 4,000 laboratories, some in physicians' offices, in panels created by Meridian Bioscience of Cincinnati as tests for certification.

All the labs that received the virus were asked to immediately destroy it and to closely monitor the health of their workers. The CDC is also working to tighten its restrictions on dangerous viruses.

Canadian health officials reported the presence of the dangerous strain of virus in March when it was identified after apparently contaminating a routine sample from a patient that was being screened at a lab that had received one of the proficiency panels.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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