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Thousands of people infected with bacteria that escaped from the laboratory

Brucella bacteria accidentally escaped from a Chinese laboratory. They spread via aerosols and infected thousands. Now the authorities have made the incident public.

A bacterium from a Chinese state laboratory has infected thousands of people, according to official reports. In 3245 people in the city of Lanzhou in northwest China, brucellosis has been found, the health authorities said, according to the AFP news agency. A first test was positive for 1401 other people. There are currently no indications of a possible human-to-human transmission, it said.

The disease is caused by the brucella bacteria and can cause fever, joint pain, and headache. In humans, it is , according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) often transmitted by infected animals or contaminated animal products.

In this case, according to the authorities, the pathogen came from a state-owned biopharmaceutical plant that produces vaccines for animals. The breakdown occurred last year. According to CNN , a total of 21,847 people were tested in the 2.9 million metropolis.

Expired disinfectant

The plant reportedly used expired disinfectant in the manufacture of Brucella vaccination jars in July and August 2019. Therefore, the bacterium was not killed and got into the plant’s ventilation system. The wind carried aerosols with the pathogen to the veterinary research institute, where it infected almost 200 people by December. Then there were other infected people, such as students and employees of Lanzhou University. According to the state news agency Xinhua, the outbreak even spread to the north of the country, where 13 people who worked at the plant in August tested positive.

The plant management apologized for the incident some time ago. According to the authorities, the facility lost its license to produce Brucella vaccinations. The infected should be compensated from October.

According to the US Disease Protection Agency CDC, transmission of Brucella from person to person is “extremely rare”. In some cases the pathogen becomes permanently embedded in the human organism and causes lifelong symptoms such as chronic fatigue, heart problems or arthritis.