Monday, September 21, 2009

Laboratory Aquired Infection Leads to Death at Univerisity of Chicago

USA. Plague Bacteria May Have Killed Chicago Researcher -
Sep 19, 2009 3:45 pm US/CentralPlague Bacteria May Have Killed Chicago ResearcherUniversity Of Chicago Insists The Public Is Not In DangerCHICAGO (CBS)

A University of Chicago researcher died Sunday, Sept. 13 from an infection which may be from a weakened strain of the bacteria that causes the plague, a University of Chicago Medical Center news release said.The Chicago Tribune identified the researcher as 60-year-old Malcolm Casadaban, a professor who was studying what school officials call a weakened strain of the bacteria in a school lab.The researcher was studying the genetics of harmful bacteria, including Yersinia pestis, a weakened strain of the plague bacteria. An initial autopsy showed no obvious cause of death except for the presence of the bacteria. Cultures of the researcher's blood grew the weakened strain of the bacteria, but whether it is the cause of the fatal illness remains unknown, the news release said.The researcher died at the University of Chicago Medical Center's Bernard Mitchell Hospital.Dr. Kenneth Alexander, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at the U of C Medical Center, said the public has "nothing to fear at this point.""What has become a mystery in this case is why this gentleman appeared to have succumbed to an organism which is not normally fatal in humans," Alexander said.People exposed to the bacteria typically develop symptoms within two to 10 days--none of the potential contacts reported any illnesses, the news release said.The strain is not known to cause illness and has been used in some countries as a vaccine to protect against the plague. It has been approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for laboratory studies.The plague is rare in the United States but remains a problem in the developing world where up to 3,000 cases are reported every year, the release said.Medical Center officials notified the Chicago Department of Public Health as well as the researcher's family, friends, colleagues and anyone else who may have had contact with the researcher.

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