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SCI/TECH: Boston U. Delayed Reporting Possibly Lethal Exposure

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posted on Jan, 20 2005 @ 02:15 PM
After three Boston University professors became ill while working with Tularemia bacteria, University waited almost two weeks before notifying officials. Local agencies and the FBI are investigating. Tularemia is on a list of pathogens that can be used as bio-weapons and which the FBI investigates. Dr. Peter A. Rice, who was in charge of the research has been demoted as a result of his lack of control over the research process and for delaying the legally mandated notifications.
Boston University officials waited nearly two weeks to notify public health authorities that they had serious concerns that researchers might have been exposed to a potentially lethal bacterium while conducting experiments, a delay that could have violated laws requiring prompt reporting of suspected infectious disease cases.

The university yesterday confirmed that on Oct. 28, test results showed that researchers who had thought they were working with a harmless variety of the bacteria tularemia instead had been working with material that appeared to be contaminated and that might have caused illnesses in three researchers. In May, two scientists had fallen ill with flu-like symptoms, and in September, a third became ill, raising suspicions that they had developed tularemia.

On Nov. 4, Dr. Peter A. Rice, the senior scientist involved in the research, was ordered by the university's Institutional Biosafety Committee to immediately cease all his work on developing a vaccine against the bacterium because of concerns about the safety of workers, BU said.

But the suspected cases of tularemia were not reported to the state Department of Public Health until Nov. 9 and to the Boston Public Health Commission until Nov. 10. The city's director of communicable disease control, Dr. Anita Barry, said last night that BU "should have notified us as soon as someone suspected a case of tularemia."

Tularemia is a reportable disease in Massachusetts, and state law requires "cases or suspect cases" of such diseases to be reported to public health authorities "immediately, but in no case more than 24 hours" after being identified.

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

As it turns out, the researchers were under the impression they were working with non-virulent strains of the agent, but those specimens had become contaminated with virulent strains. Clearly, work with pathogens is a highly dangerous enterprise and it is very important that protocols be followed. This situation, which seemingly persisted for some time, had the potential to contaminate the public and delaying the notification process was a decidedly negligent act.

Related News Links:

[edit on 05/1/20 by GradyPhilpott]

posted on Jan, 20 2005 @ 02:21 PM
"What is Tularemia?
Tularemia is a potentially serious illness that occurs naturally in the United States. It is caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis found in animals (especially rodents, rabbits, and hares).

What are the Symptoms of Tularemia?
Symptoms of tularemia could include:

sudden fever
muscle aches
joint pain
dry cough
progressive weakness
People can also catch pneumonia and develop chest pain, bloody sputum and can have trouble breathing and even sometimes stop breathing.

Other symptoms of tularemia depend on how a person was exposed to the tularemia bacteria. These symptoms can include ulcers on the skin or mouth, swollen and painful lymph glands, swollen and painful eyes, and a sore throat."

posted on Jan, 20 2005 @ 02:24 PM
People keep going on about Anthrax and Sarin, but the real danges come from Small Pox and Tuleremia and a whole host of other nasties.

posted on Jan, 20 2005 @ 04:09 PM
I really hate to worry about all the worlds problems...
but i also really dig the showtime program "jeremiah" and it is a fictional account of a virus that escapes its government lab and kills off everyone from puberty age and up...

if this was a government engineered superbug, then we would all be dying right now... so I REALLY hope that they proticols for the government labs are very strict about what they do...

but then with the anthrax contamination and the military lab that it was pointing to... perhaps they are not as safe as they like to think... same goes there... if that anthrax had been smallpox... pop goes the weasel...

how many times have we walked the line of extinction and not known it?

Opps... the university doing research for a small pox vaccine accidentally used live virus and now we can kiss half the world goodbye...

but alas... there are still worse dangers to our future...

posted on Jan, 21 2005 @ 02:38 AM
Bird Flu is the biggest threat we currently face. If the current strain mutates slightly so that it can be passed human to human then 70% of us end up dead if we aren't innoculated. This is highly likely to happen its just a matter of when.

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