Loss of Venezuelan hemorrhagic fever causing virus in USA

A press announcement from the University of Texas Medical branch announced to the community around the campus that a vial of a select agent, Guanarito, was 'unaccounted for' on Saturday (March 23).

The announcement went on to say the virus can cause haemorrhagic fever and is transmitted by rats rather than human to human contact - although they believe it's unlikely that American rats would transmit it (picky little beggars!).

This isn't strictly accurate as the reason it’s a select agent was concern at its possible use as a Biological Warfare Agent. Also it’s carried by a number of rodent species not just the rat. Human to human is not impossible either, just not the most common route of transmission.

The belief is the agent was accidentally destroyed as part of normal lab protocols and just not accounted for.

Accidents like that happen - but when working with these levels of agent, and with the uncertainty of theft, it’s pretty unacceptable to ever not be able to account for a vial.

Top marks for being honest and telling the public and CDC

Could do better for the slight obscuration in the message (obscuring the VHF to calm the public)

See me and detention for remedial training for biosecurity procedures.

While this is the 'First time' for University of Texas Medical branch - it's not the first time that they or Texan institutions have run afoul of biosafety and security:

In 2008 Texas A&M was fined $1 Million for 14 biosecurity breaches including:

A worker contracting brucellosis from the lab

Unapproved experiments

Missing samples

Unauthorized work on select bio warfare agents

A horrifying read of the details and agents involved in this is available

here

A press announcement from the University of Texas Medical branch announced to the community around the campus that a vial of a select agent, Guanarito, was 'unaccounted for' on Saturday (March 23).

The announcement went on to say the virus can cause haemorrhagic fever and is transmitted by rats rather than human to human contact - although they believe it's unlikely that American rats would transmit it (picky little beggars!).

This isn't strictly accurate as the reason it’s a select agent was concern at its possible use as a Biological Warfare Agent. Also it’s carried by a number of rodent species not just the rat. Human to human is not impossible either, just not the most common route of transmission.

The belief is the agent was accidentally destroyed as part of normal lab protocols and just not accounted for.

Accidents like that happen - but when working with these levels of agent, and with the uncertainty of theft, it’s pretty unacceptable to ever not be able to account for a vial.

Top marks for being honest and telling the public and CDC
Could do better for the slight obscuration in the message (obscuring the VHF to calm the public)
See me and detention for remedial training for biosecurity procedures.

While this is the 'First time' for University of Texas Medical branch - it's not the first time that they or Texan institutions have run afoul of biosafety and security:
In 2008 Texas A&M was fined $1 Million for 14 biosecurity breaches including:
A worker contracting brucellosis from the lab
Unapproved experiments
Missing samples
Unauthorized work on select bio warfare agents
A horrifying read of the details and agents involved in this is available
here

Tags: Security, Biological, Contract, Warfare

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