Officials Investigate How Bird Flu Contaminated Vaccines in Europe

Helen Branswell

Officials are trying to get to the bottom of how vaccine manufacturer Baxter International Inc. made “experimental virus material” based on a human flu strain but contaminated with the H5N1 avian flu virus and then distributed it to an Austrian company.

… Accidental release of a mixture of live H5N1 and H3N2 viruses – if that indeed happened – could have resulted in dire consequences. 

… Baxter International, which is based in Deerfield, Ill., said the contamination was the result of an error in its research facility in Orth-Donau, Austria.

… People familiar with biosecurity rules are dismayed by evidence that human H3N2 and avian H5N1 viruses have somehow co-mingled in the Baxter research facility. That should not be allowed to happen, a number of experts insisted.

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