Army officials have suspended most research involving dangerous germs at the biodefense laboratory at Fort Detrick, Maryland, which the FBI has linked to the anthrax attacks of 2001, after discovering that some pathogens stored there were not listed in a laboratory database.
The suspension, which began Friday and could last three months, is intended to allow a complete inventory of hazardous bacteria, viruses and toxins stored in refrigerators, freezers and cabinets in the facility, the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.
The inventory was ordered by the institute’s commander, Colonel John P. Skvorak, after officials found that the database of specimens was incomplete. In a memorandum to employees last week, Skvorak said there was a high probability that some germs and toxins in storage were not in the database…
One scientist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment, said samples from completed projects were not always destroyed, and departing scientists sometimes left behind vials whose contents were unknown to colleagues.
Now, that’s reassuring. A scavenger hunt.