A 25-year-old San Francisco laboratory researcher was killed last week after contracting the deadly bacteria strain which he had been studying, various media outlets have reported.
According to Victoria Colliver of the San Francisco Chronicle, the man, who was identified by officials at the medical examiner’s office as Richard Din, was employed at the Northern California Institute for Research and Education (NCIRE), a nonprofit dedicated to advancing veterans’ health research at the VA hospital, for the past six months.
Colliver reports that he died at that facility just 17 hours after falling ill due to a bloodstream infection caused by Neisseria meningitidis, a rare strain of bacterium which has been known to cause blood infections and meningitis. She reports that he had been handling the bacterium for “several weeks” prior to his passing, and that while it was “unlikely” that the infection came from a different source, the cause of death was still under investigation.
Din was helping to develop a vaccine for Neisseria meningitidis when he fell ill, Katie Moisse of ABC News reported on Friday. He was reportedly fine when he left the lab, but two hours later, he began to experience symptoms including headache, fever and chills, she added.
The next morning, the symptoms had worsened and he also had a rash, Matt O’Brien of the Contra Costa Times said. Din asked friends to drive him to the hospital, but wound up losing consciousness while in the car and did not have a pulse upon arrival.
He died that afternoon, due to “multiple organ failure caused by meningococcal infection and septic shock,” Reuters was told by San Francisco Department of Public Health spokeswoman Eileen Shields. Shields’ organization is investigation the circumstances around Din’s death, as are the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the California branch of OSHA, the CDC, the San Francisco VA, the news organization added.
“It’s exceedingly rare for someone to acquire a fatal infection due to the work they perform in the lab,” CDC spokesman Tom Skinner told ABC News. “When something like this happens, it’s a tragedy. We want to learn as much as we can about what happened as a way to prevent it from happening again in the future.”
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