Potential Ebola Exposure At CDC Lab

Potential Ebola Exposure At CDC Lab

The lab technician who may have been exposed to the virus is not showing any symptoms. (Photo: Getty Images)

The transfer of material from an Ebola virus experiment from one Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lab to another earlier this week may have exposed one lab technician to the virus, after it was discovered that the transferred material may have contained live virus, the agency reported Wednesday.

“The material was on a sealed plate but should not have been moved into the BSL-2 laboratory,” the CDC said in a statement. “We cannot rule out possible exposure of the one laboratory technician who worked with the material in the BSL-2 laboratory.”

Related: What Does Ebola Do To The Body?

The potential exposure was discovered Tuesday, Dec. 23, and was “reported to leadership within an hour of discovery,” according to a CDC statement. The CDC is now undergoing an internal investigation into the incident, and the Atlanta lab that the potentially contaminated material was transferred to has been decontaminated twice and is now closed.

The person who was potentially exposed to the virus has been assessed and is not showing any symptoms of Ebola. He or she will be monitored for 21 days, since it can take up to 21 days for Ebola virus symptoms to appear. The Washington Post, which first reported the news, also noted that as many as a dozen other people are also being assessed for possible exposure to the virus.

Ebola is not contagious unless a person is showing symptoms; initial symptoms include fever, muscle pain, fatigue, and sore throat, while more severe symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, organ failure, and internal and external bleeding, according to the World Health Organization.

The CDC stressed that there was no possible exposure to the virus outside of the lab, nor is there any possible danger of exposure to the public.

Related: How Ebola Got Its Name

“I am troubled by this incident in our Ebola research laboratory in Atlanta,” CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, said in a statement. “We are monitoring the health of one technician who could possibly have been exposed and I have directed that there be a full review of every aspect of the incident and that CDC take all necessary measures.”

Earlier this year, 70 to 80 CDC workers were exposed to live anthrax. The incident occurred when anthrax on the samples was not adequately inactivated, and then those samples were moved to labs where workers did not wear the protective gear necessary to handle live anthrax.

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