Lab worker in self-isolation after accidentally working with chickens exposed to corona virus

By | April 4, 2020

WINNIPEG — A Winnipeg lab worker is in self-isolation after mistakenly working with chickens that had been exposed to the corona virus.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirmed with CTV News that an employee will be receiving testing for COVID-19 after a mix-up at the National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease in Winnipeg on March 28.

CFIA said the employee was working on a study to determine whether chickens could become infected with corona virus causing COVID-19.

The employee, who CFIA said, is “well-trained in all aspects of animal care procedures,” entered a large animal cubicle, thinking it was housing non-infected chickens. The cubicle was actually housing chickens that had been inoculated with the virus 11 days earlier.

Because the worker believed he was working with “clean” chickens, CFIA said they were not wearing personal protective equipment that was sufficient.

CFIA said the employee showered both in the animal cubical and again outside. It said all the proper signs were in place.

“Samples taken from the chickens on the day of the potential exposure tested negative, indicating that the risk of potential exposure was very low,” CFIA said in a written statement to CTV News.

“Out of an abundance of caution, the employee is now at home observing a 14-day self-isolation period and will self-monitor for symptoms. As an additional precaution, the employee will undergo COVID-19 testing later this week.”

CFIA said it will be looking at the training procedures and mitigation measures to see if they can be improved. It added that the Canadian Centre for Human and Animal Health has informed the Community Liaison Committee in Winnipeg about the incident.

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