Latest CDC lab incident involves worker infected with salmonella

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating how one of its own lab workers became infected with a strain of salmonella that was being used as part of their job, the agency announced Thursday.

The possible lab-acquired infection is the latest in a series of incidents at the Atlanta-based agency, including previous mishandling of specimens of anthrax, Ebola and a deadly strain of avian influenza.

The CDC said the lab worker who was sickened with salmonella had been infected with a strain that has a relatively rare DNA fingerprint. Salmonella, which is usually spread through contaminated food, typically causes diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps that can last from four to seven days.

“The worker is well and back at CDC and, based on what we know now, no other staff were exposed or sick, and there was no release outside the laboratory,” the agency said in a press release.

The worker had completed all required safety training and was following standard protocols while performing a procedure on a frozen sample of salmonella in an effort to grow the bacteria, the CDC said. In the days following the procedure, the worker became ill and on March 18 informed the agency they had been diagnosed with a salmonella infection. The agency said it is investigating to see if additional laboratory safeguards are needed to prevent exposures in the future.

Biosafety experts expressed concern about the infection, but praised the CDC for identifying it and notifying the public.

 

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