August 9, 2007

Another Outbreak At Pirbright Laboratory?

Investigators have focused on the Institute of Animal Health at Pirbright as the suspected source of the foot-and-mouth outbreak this month in the UK. Now it appears that the lax security that infected animals in the area has allowed something more deadly to escape, and this time humans could be at risk:

A reported case of Legionnaires' Disease with alleged links to the Institute of Animal Health at Pirbright is being investigated by officials.

The research centre is one of several locations being routinely assessed under national guidance which says every place a patient has visited in the days before falling ill should be investigated, the Health Protection Agency said.

Environmental health inspectors have taken water samples from the Institute of Animal Health (IAH) after it was discovered a worker contracted the disease, the Guardian reported.

Legionnaire's Disease kills people, not animals, and can be difficult to treat. I remember the first outbreak in Philadelphia in 1976. It frightened the entire nation, because no one had seen the disease before it struct an American Legion convention at a hotel. The hotel had to be quarantined, and 34 people died. It took months before the CDC could figure out what had caused the disease.

Even with the known cause and the treatment identified, Legionellosis (as it's now called) still kills -- and the UK knows this first-hand. Just five years ago, Barrow-in-Furness had a nasty outbreak of Legionellosis. Six people died and 172 others had to be treated for the disease, which had germinated in an art centre cooling tower. The town council got charged with corporate manslaughter, but got acquitted of criminal responsibility for the breaches of health and safety regulations that led to the outbreak.

Now the government's own lab appears to have let loose the Legionellosis bacteria. What the hell is going on at the IAH in Pirbright?


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Comments (7)

Posted by Da Coyote | August 9, 2007 7:29 AM

Completely politically incorrect question: Do any "Mohammeds" work at the facilitly?

Posted by ck | August 9, 2007 7:58 AM

Dollars to doughnuts it's a muzzie or a greenie.

Posted by Lightwave | August 9, 2007 8:49 AM

The same worker being investigated for being the source of the foot-in-mouth outbreak contracted Legionnaires' Disease?

In 2007, that cannot be considered a mere coincidence, especially with this paragraph in the Telegraph story:

"The HPA pointed out that there has been a big rise in cases of Legionnaires this year and they are investigating what the cause of the increase could be."

I have an idea where the HPA should start, yes? Either the worker is incredibly unlucky (not bloody likely), this was somehow deliberate (more likely) or the security at this lab is criminally lax (MUCH more likely).

Either way, any of the three scenarios represent a real risk to the UK, and this lab needs to be shut down until there are answers.

Posted by J Hoffa | August 9, 2007 9:04 AM

Just a union member looking fo a wage increas.

Posted by GarandFan | August 9, 2007 10:59 AM

Da Coyote beat me to it. Any "Religion of Peace" practitioners working in the lab?

Posted by George | August 9, 2007 11:25 AM

The original Philadelphia Legionnaires' disease had the experts stumped. I remember one expert specifically saying that they knew it couldn't be a virus or bacteria. I always recall this when some media "expert" is trying to feed us some counterintuitive crap.

Similarly, I recall the "wind shear" experts telling us that, by looking at the smoke trail, they could conclude it was wind shear that doomed the Space Shuttle Challenger.

I think many of these "experts" now work in the study of global warming. Perhaps the rest work at Pirbright.

Posted by Roy Lofquist | August 9, 2007 4:23 PM

"The Firesign Theater" was an absurdist troupe that performed in the early seventies. One of their skits referred to a disease that incubated in the air conditioning ducts of big buildings - thus predicting Legionaire's disease.

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