The death of a female employee at the Vector State Scientific Center of Virology and Biotechnology dangerous viral infection department from the Ebola virus will be investigated by the Prosecutor's Office, said Yury Belous, a public prosecutor in Novosibirsk. A special commission is now investigating the case. He also reported that the Prosecutor's Office would make a final decision after it received the commission's conclusions.
The employee was infected as a result of her own negligence, said Mr. Belosus. Preliminary evidence indicates that she accidentally pricked her finger with a syringe when working with guinea pigs infected with the Ebola virus.
"We want to carry out a thorough analysis of this case to define what measures need to be taken to avoid similar cases in the future," said Mr. Belous. "If need be, the Vector management will be given a corresponding report in the exercise of a general supervisory function, which is to be considered within an established time."
The Vector officer was infected during a research experiment on May 5 and was promptly hospitalized in the dangerous infections ward of a special hospital with an extreme level of biological protection, said Natalia Skultetskaya, the official spokeswoman of Vector. Russian Health Ministry experts controlled her treatment.
The World Health Organization recommended that a doctor that has had many experiences with treating Ebola cases in Africa was consulted.
Despite the treatment, the patient died on May 19. The staff involved in the treatment of the patient are being kept under observation for 21 days: they will undergo a daily medical examination and twice-daily temperature measurement.
A similar case in the Vector center in the Novosibirsk suburbs occurred in 1988 when a laboratory assistant accidentally pricked himself with a syringe and died.
The Vector Virology and Biotechnology Center is one of Russia's leading production and scientific institutions engaged in fundamental research and development of medicine and diagnostic preparations. Experiments are being carried out in the fields of molecular biology, virology, genetic engineering, biotechnology, epidemiology and ecology.
Vector was created in 1974 when the center's then parent institute, the all-Union molecular biology institute, was set up. In 1985, it was converted into the Vector production association and it achieved its state-run research center status in 1994.
Today, the Vector Virology and Biotechnology center has a number of research laboratories, production facilities and other facilities.
On December 16, 2002, the World Health Organization redesignated Vector as a WHO associated center as well as a smallpox DNA and strain museum for four years.