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Feds Probe Lab Where Monkeys Were Exposed to Bioterror Bacteria

By    |   Monday, 09 Mar 2015 10:56 PM

Federal health investigators arrived at a primate research center at Tulane University hunting for the source of a lab accident that's exposed at least seven monkeys to a deadly bioterror bacteria, USA Today reports.

Investigators from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will look at worker safety and health practices at Tulane National Primate Research Center's veterinary hospital, agency spokesman Jason McDonald told USA Today.

The hospital has been suspected as the site of the monkeys' exposure last fall to the bacterium, Burkholderia pseudomallei. The Tulane research, which was halted by federal officials, aims to develop a vaccine against the bacteria.

But officials still don't how the bacteria escaped a secure lab elsewhere at the 500-acre research complex, nor do they know the extent of the contamination — including whether bacteria have colonized surrounding soil or water. Outdoor cages are near a school, hoes, wetlands and a river, USA Today reports.

The bacterium is highly regulated as a research material because of its potential to be used in a bioweapon. The bacterium is found primarily in soil and water in Southeast Asia and northern Australia.

"CDC has found no evidence to date to suggest the organism was released into the surrounding environment and therefore it's unlikely there is any threat to the public health," McDonald told USA Today. "The agency is continuing to work with federal and local officials to assess the situation."

Tulane primate center director Andrew Lackner last week said Louisiana's state agriculture and state wildlife departments "are currently preparing a plan for testing wildlife and domestic animals, both on and off [primate center] grounds."

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Federal health investigators arrived at a primate research center at Tulane University hunting for the source of a lab accident that's exposed at least seven monkeys to a deadly bioterror bacteria, USA Today reports.
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2015-56-09
Monday, 09 Mar 2015 10:56 PM
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