Texas A&M Defends Lab Safety

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Texas A&M's efforts to improve safety in its bio-research program may have inadvertently contributed to its latest alleged infraction.

In a news conference Monday, Texas A&M Interim President Eddie Davis said it was results from a blood test that led to the most recent punitive action from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The test, implemented voluntarily by Texas A&M to further enhance safety, revealed three Aggie researchers had indicators of possible Q-Fever contamination. But when the university reported the findings, the CDC lowered the boom.

"When we reported that, we received an additional cease and desist order so it could be read as perhaps a punishment over the top," Davis said. "But we're anxious to visit with the CDC, to fully comply and work with them to resolve the issue."

The CDC order forced the closure of five Texas A&M labs working with bio-defense agents. The federal agency is scheduled to visit the university next month to investigate the incident further. None of the three researchers became ill.

This isn't the first time Texas A&M has attracted the attention of the CDC. The university was originally investigated after a researcher was exposed to brucella in early 2006. Results of that investigation are now in the hands of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.