Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Lab Shuts Down after another Biocontainment Problem

University of Chicago lab closed after infection case

Science News


CHICAGO, Sept. 15 (UPI) -- University of Chicago officials say they've suspended research in a school lab after a scientist contracted an infection from a bacteria being studied there.

The unidentified female scientist was admitted Aug. 27 to the university's medical center with a skin infection from B. cereus, a bacteria that can cause food poisoning, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Thursday.

The infected tissue was removed surgically and after a course of antibiotics she was released, school officials said.

The incident at the Cummings Life Science Center did not pose a risk to the campus or community as the bacteria is not transmitted through the air or from human to human, officials said. But the Centers for Disease Control and Illinois state and local health agencies were notified as a precaution, they said.

"We assessed there was a very small possibility the contaminant had gotten out of the room," said Conrad Gilliam, a dean in the school's biological science division.

"As an added precaution, this particular agent and all others at that biosafety level have been moved off site to Argonne (National Laboratory), pending decontamination and a thorough review of protocol."

Two years ago a U. of C. researcher studying the origins of plague-causing bacteria in a different lab in the same building contracted the disease and died, the Sun-Times reported.

There were significant differences between the two incidents, school officials said.

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