Michael Farrell resigns after US CDC anthrax release mishap

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 July, 2014, 11:38pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 July, 2014, 11:38pm

The director of a US government bio-terror laboratory that potentially exposed scores of workers to live anthrax last month has resigned, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Michael Farrell, head of the laboratory in Atlanta, had been reassigned from his position last month after the agency disclosed the safety breaches. He submitted his resignation on Tuesday, officials said.

Farrell was the first employee to leave his post over the incident, in which more than 80 government workers were potentially exposed to the dangerous bacteria after samples that had not been properly inactivated left the Atlanta centre in June.

No one has fallen ill as a result of the incident, and a study has concluded that there was minimal, if any, actual risk of exposure.

But the lapse prompted scrutiny of how the agency protected the public from potentially dangerous research. The centre's director, Dr Thomas Frieden, has also pledged to change the culture of safety among its staff.

The bio-terror facility was set up in 1999 as a central point for testing samples suspected of containing biological agents.

It develops methods and provides oversight to a corresponding national network, which links state and local public health laboratories designed to identify potential bio-terror threats. It also helps authorities detect biological and chemical agents.