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Bio-defense Lab Ordered Shut Down as Researchers Get Infected

Chickens are coming home to roost? Those involved in biological weapons programs should be logically liable to infection because of some slip or other. And it seems to have happened in US and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has ordered the biodefense research laboratory at Texas A&M University to stop all work on select agents and toxins.

The CDC is investigating reports of lab workers infected with the category B bio-terror agents Brucella and Coxiella burnetti.

Brucella infections cause prolonged fever and a wide range of other possible manifestations, such as arthritis, hepatitis, and meningitis. Symptoms can be prolonged, but the disease is rarely fatal. In livestock, brucellosis causes infertility and abortions. As bioterrorism agents, Brucella strains are inexpensive to produce and disperse, according to an August 2005 article in the CDC journal Emerging Infectious Diseases (EID).

Coxiella burnetii causes a flulike disease in humans that is rarely fatal, according to the CDC. It is called Q fever.

'Query fever' usually shortened to 'Q fever', was named by Dr John Derrick, who described an outbreak of a febrile illness that occurred among abattoir workers in 1935. Q fever has an incubation period of one to four weeks in other words, it can take up to four weeks between exposure and the first symptoms. Usually it starts with a sudden high fever with muscle pain and severe headache symptoms similar to influenza. There may be chills, sweats, cough, muscle pains and fatigue. These symptoms usually last seven to 10 days and the person recovers completely though recovery may take longer in older people.

Some people get complications. Between five and 15 per cent of patients develop a post-Q fever chronic fatigue syndrome that can last many months.

Sometimes Q fever can cause a form of pneumonia or hepatitis. And in a small percentage of case
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