IAH Compton - an unhealthy concern 4 - mixing sheeps/cows brains, poor records, HSE shuts down facilities ... WTF ??
It was revealed in February that The Institute for Animal Health in Compton, Berkshire(employing 220 staff ) was forced by the HSE to shut down its high security unit over problems over possible contamination of staff with bovine tuberculosis.
IAH Compton had to cull 15 disease-ridden cattle and lock down the unit after the inspectors discovered a security breach in a laboratory used to carry out tests on TB infected cows.Pressure failure inside the high security compound sparked fears that up to 20 staff may have breathed in the disease-contaminated air. (Lord Patel mentioned this earlier today "IAH Pirbright,Compton - underfunded, underesourced,overstretched, run down."
At the time, HSE inspectors told newburytoday.co.uk: "During the routine inspection, work practices were observed which were deemed to pose a serious risk to human health."
This led to fears that the bovine TB, an airborne disease that can spread to humans via infected milk and meat, could have escaped from the laboratory into neighbouring corridors where protective clothing and gas masks are not worn by staff.
The experiments carried out in the high security lab before it was closed on February 2 involved infecting cattle with bovine TB to test whether the inoculation used to pre-vent the disease in humans could also be used as a preventative measure in cattle.
The high security unit carries out research into category three type pathogens, defined by the Government as "biological agents that can cause severe human disease and present a serious hazard to employees."
The HSE had issued a warning previously in November about a possible outbreak of legionnaires disease before this february closure.
The same HSE inspector who served the prohibition notice on Compton in February is now conducting investigations into IAH’s Pirbright centre in Surrey, which is at the centre of the latest FMVD outbreak.
In 2001, scientists at IAH were universally ridiculed in a mix up of samples that almost resulted in a nationwide cull of sheep after it was discovered that they were studying cow brains in-stead of sheep brains.
A spokesman for the Institute of Animal Health, where the research was carried out, stated at the time : "Once it's a paste, a cow brain looks very like a sheep brain. That's no excuse - the samples should have been properly labelled - but you can't tell them apart just from their appearance".
Rural Affairs minister Margaret Beckett had been accused of burying the news because of the way it was released. (BBC) (IT's to be hoped that someone could distin guish her brain from a sheep's, but it is doubtful)
A report carried out by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service, found there was "no formal documented quality system" covering the work (cost £217,000 and 5 years) at the IAH and that record keeping was "inadequate".
The report by independent risk assessors Risk Solutions stated: "Poor labelling of the samples combined with poor control of storage provided opportunity for substitution to occur." See New Scientist 23/10/01
The Director of IAH Bostock left shortly after this cockup. Four years later, IAH Compton axed 40 jobs, blaming years of underfunding.
Just ponder on that ....
"Poor labelling of the samples combined with poor control of storage provided opportunity for substitution to occur."
"biological agents (Type 3) that can cause severe human disease and present a serious hazard to employees." (not to mention the public)
..and this is the "sister" institute of IAH.
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