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Biosecurity Incident List

By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD

  • In 1966, Dr. Mario Jascalevich from New Jersey was accused of poisoning five patients with a plant-derived poison called tubocurarine.
  • Between 1964 and 1966, a Japanese doctor called Mitsuru Suzuki contaminated sponge cakes and other sources of food with shigella dysenteriae (causes diarrhea) and salmonella typhi (causes typhoid), leading to 200 to 400 illnesses and four deaths.
  • Between May 1977 and November 1980, a nursing home worker called Arnfinn Nesset killed 27 residents using a substance called curacit.
  • In 1984, religious cult members held attacks in Dalles, Oregon using salmonella typhimurium in an attempt to affect the election and gain control of the Wasco County Court. The restaurant salad bars were used as the dissemination points and the attack led to 751 illnesses. A cult member was arrested on an unrelated charge and confessed later to being involved in the event.
  • In the 1990s, Aum Shinrikyo tried to disseminate bacillus anthracis (anthrax - the vaccine strain), Clostridium botulinum and the Ebola virus in Tokyo, Japan to fulfil the apocalyptic prophecy.
  • In 1995, Larry Wayne Harris ordered 3 vials of Yersinia pestis (causing plague) from the ATCC and in the same year laboratory technician Diane Thompson took Shigella dysenteriae Type 2 from a hospital and infected her co-workers.
  • In 1995, a neurologist in Virginia called Dr. Ray W. Mettetal was found with ricin on his person after being arrested for something else.
  • In 1998, a gastroenterologist in Louisiana called Richard Schmidt infected nurse Janice Allen with HIV by injecting her with blood from a patient who had AIDS.
  • In 1999, a phlebotomist called Brian T. Stewart was sentenced to life imprisonment for deliberately infecting his baby with HIV-infected blood to avoid the cost of child support.
  • In 2001, there were a series of anthrax attacks in the United States.
  • In 2003, Professor Thomas Butler was arrested for removing 30 vials of Yersinia pestis from a laboratory.

Reviewed by , BSc

Further Reading

Last Updated: May 2, 2014

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