A potentially Deadly Oops

Here's the story.

We deal with CAP here all the time, but luckily since we do not test for influenza viruses we do not believe that we received this particular sample...though one of our sister labs might have. I have read several accounts of the news story and am really dumbfounded as to how this could have happened - though it is clearly a mistake that took place at Meridian or even perhaps further upstream.

CAP is supposed to be testing our competency!?!?!

But do not be terribly surprised, similar mistakes on a smaller scale happen like this on an irregularly frequent basis. Once our lab mistakeningly received a sample that was suspected of containing a Biosaftey Level 4 pathogen (think Ebola or Marburg, and the movie "Outbreak") that should have been sent to the CDC. That was about as scared as I ever wanted to be at work.

But, this is were the people of my profession shine. Hopefully, if eveyone who handled this erroneous sample dealt with it using all standard and universal precautions, nothing will happen. But as the incident itself suggests...no one is perfect. How many plane crashes are due to "pilot error"?

I am often asked about the theology of such pathogens - strange though it may seem. Certainly disease did not exist prior to the fall, could these little "critters" (viruses are not technically alive...they are more akin to biological machinery) have served some purpose before the fall? I suspect not. Rather I think that in our fallen world, sin itself has created an environment in which organism such as these can mutate, evolve, and perhaps even come into being.

Like all of the worlds problems, we are NOT by our own effort going to be able to "save the world" from poverty, hunger, or disease. Rather I look at my job as being akin to merely trying to keep the water level in the hold under control so the boat will float, until the REAL ship's carpenter can have a look at things when we get into dry dock.

Sometimes I like to think that "work" being done in monasteries, in our homes at our altars, and even in our hearts everyday are doing something not too dissimilar.


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