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Researcher Killed By Lab Bacteria

Posted 5/04/2012 7:00 am by

A medical research lab.

For 20 years, researchers at a lab in San Francisco have been hard at work trying to figure out a vaccine for Neisseria meningitidis, a strain of bacteria that causes meningitis, blood infections, and infects a thousand people in the United States every year, mostly infants and college students.  The bacteria infects the body rapidly, and for a lot of patients, they are dead before they  realize they are truly sick.  Twenty-five year old Richard Din was one such person.  Din, a medical researcher working on finding a vaccine for Neisseria meningitidis, died from the very thing he was trying to cure.

“It’s our responsibility to assume it’s laboratory-associated until proven otherwise,” said Harry Lampiris, the chief of infectious disease at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, where Din worked.  Coworkers described Din as “a very talented, hard-working and fastidious individual,” and Lampiris added, “He was a very bright person who was probably at the beginning of a long research career.”

According to the CDC, someone dying of an infection they were fighting to prevent is very unusual, so there’s no word on just how Din got infected with meningitis.  Samples will need to be tested to determine if Din died from his research strain of bacteria, though it is pretty likely that he did.

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