Science

CDC Admits Possible Ebola Exposure

The Ebola virus, captured by an electron microscope.
The Ebola virus, captured by an electron microscope.
Credit / CDC.gov
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A CDC technician may have been exposed to the Ebola virus in a lab earlier this week. The possible exposure happened on Monday, when a sample of the virus may have been mislabeled.

Vials are color-coded, to tell technicians what they’re working with, CDC spokesman Tom Skinner explained. In this case, live samples of the virus, rather than inactive samples.

“The vials that were used in these experiments were wrongly color-coded, which resulted in the technician thinking they were working on one thing, when they were actually working on another,” Skinner said.

The specimen the technician was actually working on may have contained live Ebola virus.

Skinner said other people who were working in the lab were notified “right away,” but no one other than the one technician was potentially exposed.  

“They were wearing a gown and gloves when they were working on it, and it’s highly unlikely that they were exposed,” said Skinner. Ebola is transmitted through direct contact with body fluids or through needles.

The technician will have his or her temperature taken twice a day for 21 days, said Skinner.

Earlier this year, CDC workers were exposed to anthrax. Skinner said they’ve been making sweeping changes at the CDC since then, and there’s an ongoing investigation regarding this latest mistake.