Plague may have killed researcher

A University of Chicago geneticist studying the genetics of Yersinia pestis, the bacterium that causes plague, may have died from exposure to a weakened strain he worked with in the laboratory. Wayson stain of Yersinia pestisImage: Wikimedia commons, US Center for Disease Control linkurl:Malcolm J. Casadaban;http://molbio.bsd.uchicago.edu/Faculty_and_Research/02_Faculty_by_Graduate_Program/05_Cell_&_Molecular_Biology.php?faculty_id=32 died on September 13. Autopsy results on Friday (September

Jef Akst
Jef Akst

Jef Akst is managing editor of The Scientist, where she started as an intern in 2009 after receiving a master’s degree from Indiana University in April 2009 studying the mating behavior of seahorses.

View full profile.


Learn about our editorial policies.

Sep 20, 2009
A University of Chicago geneticist studying the genetics of Yersinia pestis, the bacterium that causes plague, may have died from exposure to a weakened strain he worked with in the laboratory.
Wayson stain of Yersinia pestis
Image: Wikimedia commons,
US Center for Disease Control
linkurl:Malcolm J. Casadaban;http://molbio.bsd.uchicago.edu/Faculty_and_Research/02_Faculty_by_Graduate_Program/05_Cell_&_Molecular_Biology.php?faculty_id=32 died on September 13. Autopsy results on Friday (September 18) revealed the presence of the bacteria in the researcher's blood, and suggested no other possible cause of death. The strain Casadaban worked with lacks the bacteria's harmful components and is therefore not believed to be dangerous to healthy adults. It has been approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for routine laboratory studies, and handling it does not require any special safety procedures. It is possible, however, that this particular strain was different than the CDC-approved strain or that Casadaban had underlying genetic or health conditions that made him...




Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?