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Medical News and Perspectives
May 11, 2005

Officials Track Down Pandemic Flu Samples

JAMA. 2005;293(18):2203. doi:10.1001/jama.293.18.2203

The discovery that samples of a deadly strain of influenza virus were included in test kits sent to thousands of laboratories around the world sent officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization scrambling to track down the materials and ensure their destruction.

The College of American Pathologists and a few other organizations that are responsible for testing proficiency of laboratories around the world “inadvertently” sent out testing panels containing the H2N2 influenza A strain, CDC Director Julie Gerberding, MD, MPH, said in a press briefing. This strain caused the 1957 “Asian flu” pandemic that killed an estimated 1 million to 4 million people. The virus has not been detected in circulation since 1968, so that anyone born after that date would presumably be completely susceptible.

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