Tulane primate center probed after infections

An investigation has been launched after two nonhuman primates were infected with Burkholderia pseudomallei in late 2014 at the Tulane National Primate Research Center in Covington, Louisiana, the St. Tammany Parish officials said Saturday.

The virus causes mellioidosis in humans and other animals, and is considered by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to be a tier-one agent. Both animals became ill, and one had to be euthanized.

Both the CDC and the U.S. Department of Agriculture launched a joint investigation to determine the source of the infections.

The report said a researcher later became ill, and blood tests revealed antibodies against the virus. It has yet to be determined whether the infection came from the laboratory or if it was contracted from the researcher's recent travel destinations. Other members of the research team will be tested. The report said the virus is not airborne and cannot easily be transmitted from person to person or animal to person.

Melioidosis is largely a tropical disease that can take many forms, depending on where and what systems of the body have been infected. The CDC said symptoms of the disease include fever, chest pain, headaches, seizures and weight loss that can become severe enough to be considered a form of anorexia. It can be mistaken as tuberculosis or other more common forms of pneumonia.

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U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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