FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 11, 2000
CONTACT:Mark B. Horton, MD, MSPH
Hildy Meyers, MD, MPH
MICHAEL SCHUMACHER, Ph.D.
MARK B. HORTON, MD, MSPH
DEPUTY AGENCY DIRECTOR/HEALTH OFFICER
515 N. SYCAMORE STREET, SUITE 610
SANTA ANA, CA 92705
BIOLOGIC AGENTS IDENTIFIED
BY MARK HARTON, M.D.
Today Mark Horton, M.D., Orange County's
Health Officer, reported that two bacteria were identified
among the biological materials removed from the Biofem
facility in conjunction with the investigation surrounding
Dr. Larry Ford.
The organisms, which were found in extremely poor condition,
were identified as Clostridium tetani and Clostridum difficile.
C. tetani is ubiquitous in the environment and is the
bacterium that can cause tetanus in unvaccinated individuals,
or those who were vaccinated in the past but have not
maintained their immunity through receipt of the recommended
booster doses of vaccine. Tetanus can occur when an open
wound, even a medically insignificant one, is contaminated
with soil or animal feces. C. difficile can be found in
the intestines of 3-8% of healthy adults and it may cause
diarrhea in individuals whose intestinal flora has been
altered as a result of receiving antibiotics, usually
in elderly persons being treated in a hospital.
There is no evidence to suggest that these materials were
being used to prepare a biological weapon, and neither
of these bacteria are on the Center for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC) list of possible bioterrorism agents.
As we have stated in the past, there is absolutely no
indication of any threat to public health.
No other bacterial agents have been identified. As a result
of these conclusions, the public health and laboratory
investigation into the biologic materials has been terminated.