California Lab Worker Dies of Suspected Lab Associated Infection (LAI) (Updated 5/16/12)
Local and federal agencies are investigating the death of a 25 year old lab research assistant at the VA Medical Center in San Francisco of meningococcal disease. It is believed that he was exposed to Neisseria meningitidis serotype B while working with it in the laboratory. The lab worker complained of a headache and nausea soon after leaving the lab on the evening of April 27th. By the next morning his symptoms had worsened and friends took him to the hospital. His condition deteriorated quickly and he died less than 18 hours after leaving the lab.
N. meningitides was being worked with using BSL2 precautions, which is recommended for this agent. While a vaccine is available and the person was vaccinated, it is not effective on the specific serotype with which he was working. The creation of an effective vaccine was the objective of the research. The lab worked with the agent in a biosafety cabinet and the worker was said to be meticulous with his work and following safety procedures. Further investigation is being done by the CDC and state officials to determine the cause of the illness. This incident is an unfortunate reminder to lab workers that Lab Associated Infections do occur. It is important to remember to:
- Carefully follow safe practices. They are for your protection.
- Know the symptoms of infection of agents that you and others in your lab are using.
- Take those symptoms seriously and get prompt treatment, even if they are not uncommon for other agents or illnesses.
- Tell healthcare workers treating you where you work and what agents you and others in your lab possess.