Illegal medical lab containing bio-modified mice and infectious agents including HIV and herpes discovered in California

Illegal medical lab containing bio-modified mice and infectious agents including HIV and herpes discovered in California
An animal husbandry specialist holds a laboratory rat at the University of Geneva on January 18, 2022.

Animal husbandry specialist holding a laboratory rat.FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images

  • Investigators discovered an illegal medical laboratory in a warehouse in Fresno, California.

  • The lab was filled with bioengineered mice and samples from diseases like COVID-19, HIV and herpes.

  • Nearly 1,000 mice have been found, with nearly 200 already dead. The rest were euthanized.

An illegal California lab containing nearly 1,000 bioengineered rats has alarmed officials after improperly stored tissue samples were tested and discovered to contain infectious diseases including HIV and hepatitis.

“This is an unusual situation. I’ve been in government for 25 years. I’ve never seen anything like this,” Ridley City Manager Nicole Zippa told local media. KRON4.

The makeshift lab contained nearly 30 refrigerators and freezers — some of them broken — as well as incubators, medical testing supplies, and hundreds of mice. Many of the disease samples tested from the lab included infectious agents such as herpes, coronavirus, E. coli, and malaria, SFist mentioned.

Wang Chulin, a representative of the lab’s operating company, Prestige Biotech, told investigators that the mice inside the warehouse had been genetically modified to catch and spread the COVID-19 virus, according to San Joaquin Valley Sun.

The warehouse came under investigation in March after a local law enforcement officer discovered a garden hose attached to a back wall of the building. As officials searched, medical devices that appeared to have been built on site, such as COVID-19 and pregnancy tests, were discovered. NBC News mentioned.

Court documents related to the incident stated that “some of the warehouse rooms contained several containers containing various liquids and devices.” “Fresno County Public Health personnel also observed blood and tissue samples, other body fluids, and serums; thousands of vials of unlabeled fluids and suspected biological materials.”

Nearly 800 of the rats found inside the warehouse have been killed by officials, according to NBC. Approximately 175 additional mice were already dead when they were discovered.

“There were over 800 different chemicals at the site in different bottles of different acids,” KRON4 Assistant Director of the Fresno County Department of Public Health Joe Prado said. “Unfortunately, a lot of these are classified under unknown chemicals.”

NBC reported that all biohazardous materials inside the lab had been destroyed as of July 7, though an investigation into the lab’s origins and activity continues.

The CDC and Fresno County Public Health Department did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.

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