A University professor who violated research protocol, possibly exposing dozens of adults and children to a virus that can cause leukemia, said he is still awaiting the results of an investigation into the incident. Microbiology Professor Jorge Ferrer's research has been suspended since the middle of June, when University officials discovered that 30 Veterinary School students and staff members and about 100 pre-schoolers may have come in contact with 14 lambs which Ferrer had inoculated with Human T-cell Lymphotropic Type 1 virus. Ferrer said yesterday that he had expected the misconduct in research investigation into the incident to be completed by the Vet School three weeks ago. Ferrer added that he was told recently the results would be released this week. Ferrer declined further comment, saying a University confidentiality rule prevents him from discussing the incident. But he did add that "the University has not followed the confidentiality rule because they released my name." Vet School Dean Edwin Andrews could not be reached for comment. University Laboratory Animal Resources Director Harry Rozmiarek said that the investigation has not been completed, and that "until something like that gets finished, the investigation is kept under wraps." He said Ferrer will not be allowed to use animals in research until the results of the investigation are released. Although University and federal regulations stipulate that animals inoculated during research be separated from the flock, Ferrer's lambs were not sequestered from the rest of the flock at the New Bolton Center in Chester County. Vet School students and staff who performed routine operations on the lambs, including tail bobbing and castration, were not aware that any of the animals had been innoculated with the deadly HTLV-1 virus. About 100 preschoolers and 30 adult chaperones may have also been exposed to the virus during field trips to New Bolton in May, where they were allowed to pet the lambs. In June, University officials said the medical procedures performed by the students and staff involved little blood and the risk of infection was very low. They added that the risk to the preschoolers and their chaperones was almost non-existent. In August, all 30 of the students and staff members and one preschooler tested negative for the virus. They will be retested in several months to make sure they were not infected. Associate University General Counsel Neil Hamburg said yesterday that no lawsuits against the Univeristy have resulted from the incident.Comments powered by Disqus
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