Documents Expose Animal Abuse, Mishandling of Bird Flu Virus at CDC Laboratories

PETA Calls for Investigation Into 13 Incidents in 12 Months in Which Mice Asphyxiated, Calf Allowed to Die of Hypothermia

For Immediate Release:
August 19, 2015

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382


Government documents revealing the gross mistreatment and torturous deaths of animals in Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) laboratories have prompted PETA to call for a federal investigation.

In 53 pages of documents obtained by PETA from the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare, 13 violations were documented over a 12-month period, including the inoculation of two ferrets and 40 mice with an H9N2 virus that was later found to be contaminated with the deadly H5N1 virus. All the animals were then killed.

Other violations include:

  • the death of a calf who was left in a cold barn known to have a malfunctioning heater
  • the deaths of five mice from asphyxiation after the ventilation pump to their experimental chamber was turned off
  • the deaths of prairie dogs after they became caught in floor drains on two separate occasions
  • the deaths of three hamsters and the euthanasia of eight others after workers failed to notice a problem with their watering system
  • the deaths or euthanasia of 15 mice who were placed inside cages that were still hot from high-temperature sterilization

“The CDC’s lack of accountability has resulted in egregious suffering for animals and perilous working conditions for employees,” states the letter that PETA sent to the Department of Health and Human Services inspector general. A copy of the letter is available upon request.

Last year, PETA released photos and other evidence of horribly burned monkeys, the mishandling of a deadly rabies virus in CDC laboratories, and a failure to monitor an owl monkey who removed her sutures following an experimental surgery, spilling her intestines out of the wound.

“The CDC was apparently so negligent and careless that animals endured terrible deaths and human workers were put at risk of a deadly strain of bird flu,” says PETA Director of Laboratory Investigations Justin Goodman. “PETA is calling for authorities to hold the CDC accountable for its ongoing inexcusable deficiencies that cost animals their lives and endanger staff.”

In contrast to other laboratories that use animals covered under the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA), government laboratories—like those operated by the CDC—are not subject to inspections by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ensure adherence to the AWA.

The CDC’s requested $6.6 billion budget for fiscal year 2014 included more than $500 million earmarked to “monitor health and ensure laboratory excellence.

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