National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Even biohazard labs make mistakes

U.S. labs working with hazardous microbes and toxins reported more than 1100 mishaps such as bites, needle pricks, and spills from 2008 through 2012, government reports obtained by USA Today have revealed. The documents, based on incident reports by labs registered with the Federal Select Agent Program, list almost 900 potential releases of dangerous pathogens and mention several cases of lab workers treated for infections with livestock diseases such as brucellosis, tularemia, and Q fever (caused by the bacteria Coxiella burnetii, pictured); all recovered. The names of the labs and many other details of the incidents remain secret under bioterrorism laws.