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What's in This Tube, Again?

Four US Defense Department labs are under investigation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over their handling of microbes used in bioterrorism research, the New York Times reports.

The errors at the labs involved samples of anthrax, plague, and a virus that causes encephalitis, which the agency studies to defend against their use as weapons. Officials say these errors posed no risk to the public.

"Inspectors found some labeling issues," Jason McDonald, an agency spokesperson, tells the Times.

The errors were uncovered during additional checks of Defense Department labs following the recent revelation that the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah had erroneously sent live anthrax samples to other labs in the US and abroad. An initial review of that case by the Pentagon found that lab procedures were insufficient to kill the anthrax samples and that only a small portion of samples were checked to confirm inactivation.

The secretary of the Army has ordered the four labs now under investigation to halt their work with select agents, the Times reports, adding that those labs plus a further five have also been ordered to conduct safety reviews of their procedures.