Brazos County Sent Info on A&M Researcher's Infection to CDC

By  | 

A CDC investigation into Texas A&M continues after a researcher was infected with a bioweapons agent last February. The appropriate paperwork may not have been filed until this month.

However, the CDC did apparently know of the incident from another local entity.

When something fishy like a human brucellosis case pops up in Brazos County, medical sources contact the health department. When Emergency Preparedness and Response Coordinator Mike Paulus heard reports Monday of an investigation at A&M, he had questions.

"I was wondering, 'Well, we've got brucellosis here. There's something I need to know about,' because it's something included in Category B agents for bioterrorism," Paulus said.

Bioterrorism agents and diseases are divided into three categories. More serious types like anthrax and smallpox fall into Category A. Brucella, which an A&M researcher apparently contracted in a February 2006 experiment, is in the second category.

Read more about the CDC rankings and learn more about brucellosis in the Related Links section below.

If brucellosis pops up, the health department is supposed to contact the state, which in turn, contacts the CDC.

Paulus decided to check the record books from last year.

"It had, indeed, been reported to us a year ago, and had been inputted into the CDC website," Paulus said.

Notification of the incident apparently came from Scott and White, where the researcher was treated.

The documents shown to News 3 contain mostly confidential information, but do show what Paulus deems a timely response to the incident on their part. The initial report to the health department came April 19 according to the documents, with the case apparently closed April 21.

"Our investigation and our involvement with this case ended a year ago when all of the reporting was completed," Paulus said.

So the CDC apparently was informed of the incident through one avenue. The question remains as to why A&M may not have sent similar, required notice until 12 months later.

The incident is believed to have happened back in February of last year at the Laboratory Animal Resources and Research (LARR) Building when a researcher was infected while cleaning a chamber. Mice were being given brucella in the experiment in question.