Victim of bacterial meningitis at VA lab IDed; lab worked with several strains

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs logoby Amy Standen, KQED

The 25-year old lab worker who died on Saturday from a bacterial infection has been identified as Treasure Island resident Richard Din. Din died of a form of bacterial meningitis that he likely caught while working in a San Francisco VA lab.

According to the VA, Din was working with Neisseria meningitidis serotype B, a particularly virulent strain of bacteria known to cause meningitis and blood infections. Unlike other strains of Neisseria meningitidis, serotype B does not respond to existing vaccines.

CDC guidelines state that lab workers working with any serotype of Neisseria meningitidis should be vaccinated. Other VA researchers were working with serotypes that do respond to vaccines.

Lampiris said the VA hasn’t determined whether any of the lab workers had received the vaccine, or even knew it was recommended. “I would say that people in the lab had not received information that there was a routine recommendation for vaccination,” he said.

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This article is from our news associate KQED.

Analysts at the CDC are working with samples from the lab as well as from the victim to confirm that Din’s death did, indeed, stem from workplace exposure.

It is possible to catch meningococcal disease – the form of meningitis caused by Neisseria meningitides – outside of a lab. But laboratory-acquired cases have a much higher fatality rate than cases in the general population. According to the CDC, half of lab workers who are infected with meningococcal disease generally die from it, compared to a 12-15 percent fatality rate in the general population.

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This article comes to the Ocean Beach Bulletin from our news associate KQED. Read more about our partnership with KQED.

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2 Comments

  1. This death is unfortunate. Hopefully a vacine that includes an antigen from the group B strain of Neiseria that is protective will be included in future Neiseria vaccines. Anti sera from all the groups including group B and the rough forms of Neiseria can be produced by rabbits. Most humans seem to have developed an immunity to all groups of Neiseria Meningiditis consequently there must be a protective antigen in the group B strain.

  2. I can imagine Dustin Hoffman and Henry Winkler in biohazard suits confirming the OUTBREAK by holding test tubes up to the sunlight watching this stuff grow. Next, expect Hoffman to fly his helicopter in front of a plane so they don’t bomb Treasure Island in the middle of San Francisco Bay. To wipe out the plague, supposedly, you see.

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