Federation of American Scientists Case Studies in Dual Use Biological Research Module 5.0: Antibiotic Resistance Case Study
Topic: Reasons for Public Distrust Texas A&M University

The infection of laboratory workers with select agents at Texas A&M University (TAMU) was another high profile case. In April 2007 documents provided to the Sunshine Project, a now defunct Texas-based watchdog group, as a result of a Texas Public Information Request revealed that a researcher had contracted brucellosis as a result of an exposure that occurred during an experiment conducted in the University’s BSL-3 facility in February 2006. The documents showed that after the university learned of the infection, officials failed to report it to the CDC as required by the rules of the Select Agent Program.

In June 2007 the Sunshine Project became aware of an additional incident at TAMU where blood tests showed that three researchers had been exposed to C. burnetti, which causes Q fever, though they had not contracted the disease. The exposures occurred in April 2006, but again the university did not notify the CDC of the incident. As a result of these incidents, the CDC inspected the facility and ordered TAMU to stop all select agent work. A comprehensive review of the facility to determine if it met the standards for handling select agents would be undertaken, and a failure to comply would mean the TAMU’s select agent work would be permanently stopped and moved to other labs.

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