In a separate teleconference, Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said the test kits containing the virus were sent out beginning last September. “We want to reassure the public that we have no evidence of any health threat to anyone in the community as a result of this” and no evidence of illness in lab workers, she said. “We have very good surveillance for influenza in the United States and we’ve not observed any unusual patterns of influenza this year. . . . If an unusual influenza virus had emerged, we’d certainly know about it by now.” Meridian Bioscience of Cincinnati sent samples of influenza A(H2N2) to thousands of laboratories, mostly in the United States, in kits used by the labs to test their ability to identify viruses. The test kits were sent on behalf of the College of American Pathologists (CAP) and three other professional organizations. Gerberding explained that for accreditation, labs generally need only to show they can determine if a virus is influenza and whether it’s type A or B. “That’s why we didn’t learn about this earlier,” she said. The CAP instructed Meridian to include an influenza A virus in its test kits but did not specify the type beyond that, according to Schwartz. Henceforward the college plans to give more specific instructions, he said. Apr 13, 2005 (CIDRAP News) The company that sent samples of the influenza virus that caused the 1957 flu pandemic to thousands of laboratories knew the identity of the virus but apparently assumed it wasn’t hazardous because of its current safety classification, officials said today. But Schwartz and federal health officials said today the virus poses very little risk to lab workers and the public. Gerberding said it wasn’t exactly clear why Meridian picked the H2N2 virus, but commented, “It was probably a situation where the advantages of using a strain that grows well and can be easily manipulated in the lab were the driving force.” Before the problem came to light, the CDC had made a recommendation that the H2N2 virus be reclassified as a BSL-3 agent, Gerberding said. She promised to speed up the reclassification. The CDC determines the classifications in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health. In a teleconference this afternoon, CAP spokesman Dr. Jared Schwartz said Meridian knew what the virus was but believed it was safe. In selecting it, the company had determined that the virus was classified as a biosafety level 2 (BSL-2) agent, which meant it could legally be used in the kits, he said. Earlier reports suggested that the virus might have been mislabeled. The situation was discovered in March by Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, Man. Schwartz and Gerberding said the H2N2 virus used in the kits was a reference strain, meaning it had been used in labs as a quality-control specimen for years. Gerberding said reference strains often become less virulent over time. “It’s possible that this strain of virus poses a very very low risk of transmission efficiency in the public,” she said. “But we have to err on the side of caution.” The CDC notified the CAP of the situation Apr 8 and asked the organization to inform the labs and tell them to destroy the virus samples, Schwartz said. “We’ve asked them [the labs] to sign a piece of paper attesting that they’ve destroyed the virus. We’ve received over 1,500 of them back already,” he said. He later added, “We don’t know what the decision process was. It appears to have been an error in judgment in sending out an organism that had not been seen in the United States or other countries in many, many years.” “We now know that they knew it was an H2N2 virus; had the college known that, we would not have allowed them to send out an H2N2, even though it’s classified as biosafety level 2,” Schwartz said. In BSL-3 labs, agents are handled with equipment designed to prevent any airborne contamination and resulting respiratory exposure, Gerberding said. Level 2 precautions are less stringent, but they can also protect workers from respiratory exposure when they are followed properly, she added.
SHARE Email Facebook Twitter Gov. Wolf, Sen. Casey Announce $3 Million in State Funding for New Project HOME Facility in Philadelphia Equality, Press Release Philadelphia, PA – Governor Tom Wolf and Senator Bob Casey today announced a $3 million grant to help fund the construction of a new Project HOME building with LGBTQ-friendly affordable housing units for young adults who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.“Nationwide, 40 percent of homeless young adults identify as LGBTQ, and we know that without early interventions to educate, employ, and empower homeless youth, and without a stabilizing force in their lives, it becomes incredibly hard to break the cycle they are caught in,” Governor Wolf said. “This project will target that population, giving them a place to stay and access to critical services that they need to get back on their feet in a time of intense need.”“Our nation has a deep and abiding obligation to the most vulnerable, a mission Project HOME fulfils daily,” Senator Casey said. “Earlier this year I called for additional resources to combat homelessness, particularly among children. I worked to help secure this grant so that more children in Southeastern Pennsylvania will be able to have this basic measure of security. This grant will also ensure that LGBTQ youth have an opportunity to reside in a secure and affirming environment.”The $3 million Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) funding will go toward construction of a four-story, 36,000 square-foot building at 1315 N. 8th Street in the Kensington section of the city. It will include 30 one-bedroom units of affordable housing targeted to young adults (age 18-25) who are homeless, have experienced homelessness, or are at risk of homelessness (including those aging out of foster care), and will be LGBTQ-friendly. Residents will benefit from a combination of housing, employment, education and health care-related services, as well as case management, life skills and community-building activities.“Project HOME is very grateful for the partnership with Governor Wolf and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” said Sister Mary Scullion, President and Executive Director of Project HOME. “With their extraordinary leadership, the $3 million RACP grant will leverage an estimated $13 million in total direct capital investment to support phase one of a two part, $27 million project at 8th and Thompson Streets. The first phase is 30 units of LGBTQ-friendly housing for homeless and at-risk young adults. We will continue our work with the broader community because none of us are home until all of us are home.”Project HOME plans to break ground in the spring of 2017. Construction is expected to be complete by the spring of 2018.Like Governor Tom Wolf on Facebook: Facebook.com/GovernorWolf October 21, 2016