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Bacterium Escape from Chinese Laboratory

Officials have confirmed that more than 10,500 people have contracted brucellosis, an animal disease, in northwest China, after the bacteria ‘escaped’ from a biopharmaceutical laboratory that produces vaccines for animals. Brucellosis is a disease transmitted by cattle or animal products. It is generally not contagious among humans, but it can cause fever, headache and pains in joints.

The city of Lanzhou, capital of Gansu province in the northwest of the country, has tested a total of 79,357 residents to date with many being treated for the disease stated the ‘official’ Global Times newspaper.

The outbreak was caused when a public laboratory in the city used out-of-date disinfectant during the summer of 2019 to sterilise areas used to produce anti-brucellosis animal vaccines which are used on cattle, sheep and pigs. With the sterilisation compromised the bacteria were still present in the company’s laboratory – the Lanzhou Biopharmaceutical Unit for breeding animal gas emissions.

The contaminated gas spread through the air to the Veterinary Research Institute, where it infected almost 200 people in December 2019.

Authorisation for the production of vaccines against brucellosis has been withdrawn from the laboratory and patients will receive financial compensation, according to the Lanzhou authorities.

Samantha Gannon

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Image: Global Times

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