From 2008 to 2012, laboratories conducting research on potential bioterrorism weapons logged more than 1,100 accidents. That figure, chronicled in government reports obtained by USA Today, includes a case where two animals were accidentally infected with hog cholera, a virus that hasn’t been found in the U.S. since 1978.
In another case, an uninvolved cow residing on a nearby farm became infected with brucellosis, a virus that can be passed to humans through dairy products. In about half of the incidents, lab workers had to be medically screened or treated after accidental exposure to a mishandled toxin, and in five cases, lab workers were infected or sickened. (All lab workers recovered.)
The Centers for Disease Control reports don’t include many details; federal bioterrorism laws prohibited the names of the errant labs and most specific information about the mishaps from being disclosed. But just the number of accidents alone adds volumes to the genre of doomsday headlines chronicling high-stakes bio-error.