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J Infect Dis. 2012 Jul 1;206(1):63-8. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jis302. Epub 2012 Apr 26.

Investigation of the first laboratory-acquired human cowpox virus infection in the United States.

Author information

1
Poxvirus Team, Poxvirus and Rabies Branch, Division of High-Consequence Pathogens and Pathology, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA. amccollum@cdc.gov

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Cowpox virus is an Orthopoxvirus that can cause infections in humans and a variety of animals. Infections occur in Eurasia; infections in humans and animals have not been reported in the United States. This report describes the occurrence of the first known human case of laboratory-acquired cowpox virus infection in the United States and the ensuing investigation.

METHODS:

The patient and laboratory personnel were interviewed, and laboratory activities were reviewed. Real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and serologic assays were used to test the patient's specimens. PCR assays were used to test specimens obtained during the investigation.

RESULTS:

A specimen from the patient's lesion tested positive for cowpox virus DNA. Genome sequencing revealed a recombinant region consistent with a strain of cowpox virus stored in the research laboratory's freezer. Cowpox virus contamination was detected in 6 additional laboratory stocks of viruses. Orthopoxvirus DNA was present in 3 of 20 environmental swabs taken from laboratory surfaces.

CONCLUSIONS:

The handling of contaminated reagents or contact with contaminated surfaces was likely the mode of transmission. Delays in recognition and diagnosis of this infection in a laboratory researcher underscore the importance of a thorough patient history-including occupational information-and laboratory testing in facilitating a prompt investigation and application of control and remediation measures.

PMID:
22539811
DOI:
10.1093/infdis/jis302
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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