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Protective suits hang in a laboratory at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Maryland.

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Top U.S. biodefense lab pauses work after safety lapses

The lead U.S. military laboratory that studies some of the most dangerous pathogens has had to curtail its work because it failed a safety inspection last month. The U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) in Frederick, Maryland, studies the highly regulated “select agents” that cause Ebola, plague, tularemia, and other lethal diseases.

An inspection in June by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta found USAMRIID had failed to properly recertify some workers in its biocontainment labs and also had a faulty wastewater decontamination system, The Frederick News-Post first reported on 2 August. A military spokesperson told the News-Post that USAMRIID is attempting to rectify the problems, but it is uncertain when the lab will start to work with those agents again.