(VitalNews.org) – An illegal laboratory containing hundreds of malnourished and infected mice was discovered near Fresno, California in April this year. Details of the unexpected find have been released by the Fresno County Public Health Department in a statement made on Thursday, July 27th. Joe Prado, the department’s assistant director told reporters that the investigation into the laboratory involved multiple agencies working to identify the mystery substances found in the building, which included over 800 chemicals and at least 20 potentially infectious agents, including COVID-19, HIV, and herpes.
The investigation began as a simple matter of city officials looking into the matter of some building violations, including an ordinary water hose attached to the building in Reedley, near Fresno. Upon further inspection, officials found various pieces of medical paraphernalia, such as pregnancy and COVID-19 tests. More concerningly, they also found over 5000 gallons of biological waste, including virus and blood samples, and nearly a thousand mice being held in inhumane conditions.
The health department authorities brought a veterinarian to the warehouse to determine the condition of the mice. The veterinarian concluded that the mice were being kept in very poor conditions, with limited food and drinking water, dirty bedding, and in constantly lit rooms. City officials took ownership of the mice and ordered their destruction, with 773 being humanely euthanized. 175 of the mice were already dead.
The investigation into the laboratory established that the building’s tenant was a company called Prestige BioTech, a Nevada-registered company not licensed to operate in California. Officials questioned Xiuquin Yao, then named president of the company, who told them that Prestige BioTech had moved assets belonging to its debtor, Universal Meditech Inc., after UMI shut down. Officials also spoke to a representative of the lab named David He, who denied that the laboratory posed any threat to public safety, and even denied having any infectious material apart from some samples of E.Coli.
Officials have complained that named personnel associated with Prestige BioTech have been unforthcoming in their responses to questions and have failed to provide any of the necessary documentation relating to their activities. Investigations into the illicit laboratory are ongoing.
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