Poor Biocontainment Issues in Laboratories Raises Public Health and Safety Issues
A Fort Detrick laboratory worker has been infected with Tularemia, a bacteria which causes skin lesions, flu like symptoms, pneumonia or typhoid forms of the disease.
Tularemia can penetrate into the body through damaged skin and mucous membranes, or through inhalation. The natural form of Tularemia (i.e, not genetically engineered) typically is not spread from person to person. Rather, it is usually contracted through tick bites or handling diseased animals.
The infected researcher had been working with Tularemia in a BL3 lab at Fort Detrick at the time she became ill around November 23, 2009.
A BL3 (Biosafety level 3) laboratory is a biocontainment level having high levels of containment in hopes of preventing release of dangerous microorganisms into the environment.
How BL3 biocontainment of Tularemia was not maintained and, consequently, caused an illness, remains a mystery.
There is very little regulatory oversight in dangerous BL2 to BL4 laboratories that work on natural or genetically engineered human infectious agents throughout the United States. Worker's rights to a safe work environment are legally limited. This lack of protection for the public presents a serious public health and safety threat which seems to get very little attention and is usually kept from the public’s eye.