ARS TECHNICA – Local and federal authorities have shut down what seems to be an illegal medical lab hidden in a California warehouse that contained:
nearly 1,000 laboratory mice, hundreds of unknown chemicals, refrigerators and freezers, vials of biohazardous materials, including blood, incubators, and at least 20 infectious agents, including SARS-CoV-2, HIV, and a herpes virus.
According to NBC News affiliate KSEE of Fresno, local authorities were first tipped off to the unlicensed facility when a local code enforcement officer noticed that a garden hose was illegally attached to the back of the building.
That led city officials to obtain a search warrant to inspect the warehouse, which was supposed to only be used for storage.
According to court documents obtained by NBC News, city officials inspected the warehouse, located in Reedley, southeast of Fresno, on March 3. County health officials then inspected the facility on March 16. What they found reportedly shocked them.
“This is an unusual situation. I’ve been in government for 25 years. I’ve never seen anything like this.” – Reedley City Manager Nicole Zieba
“Fresno County Public Health staff also observed blood, tissue and other bodily fluid samples and serums; and thousands of vials of unlabeled fluids and suspected biological material,” court documents said.
There was also a room full of mice.
According to the court documents, the mice were kept in inhumane conditions …
Beth Mole is Ars Technica’s Senior Health Reporter. Beth has a Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and attended the Science Communication program at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She specializes in covering infectious diseases, public health, and microbes.