Chink in the armour

Published: Friday 31 January 2003

According to a General Accounting Office (gao) review, the us Center for Disease Control and Prevention (cdc), Atlanta, Georgia, which is supposed to keep track of dangerous pathogens, is not functioning efficiently.

The gao review began in November 2001, following a series of anthrax attacks in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist strike in New York and Washington. In a letter to the head of the us department of health and human services, Tommy Thompson, gao wrote, "We found significant management weaknesses in cdc's facility registration and transfer monitoring processes that impede effective programme oversight."

In June 2002, us President George W Bush signed a law requiring the cdc to keep tabs on all laboratories that use select agents.

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