Infected with African Trypanosomes at the University of Guelph

Bozena Kristof kristof at EASYNET.ON.CA
Wed Jan 1 18:03:51 EST 1997

Perhaps the following may be of interest to the members of this list
especially those with an interest in the type of research that is being
(or in my case -was) conducted at a Canadian university, particularly
the University of Guelph.

I  had contracted African Sleeping  Sickness or Trypanosomiasis because
of the research activity of a professor [Dr. Lucy Mutharia] in the
Microbiology dept. at the  University of Guelph - my duty in this lab
being a lab tech drawing blood from animals.  It was a six year  ordeal
to save my life from a disease  that "gives no respite from suffering
day or night and ends in death"  -World Health Organization Web Page.

I am writing this in the hope that something may be done concerning
this serious breach of the law at the University of Guelph. This is not
a personal flame or an unsubstantiated attack against this University.
 I assure you that the following  story is completely true and may be
backed  up  by official documentation at your request.  I encourage you
to access my web-site which contains a summary of my ordeal.

Web-site :

My web-site documents my ordeal including the  denials
of both the Ontario Ministry of Labour and the  University of Guelph. I
could not count on help from either institution but on the contrary I
was subjected to lies and distortions of the truth  for six years.

I had been inoculating both rabbits and mice with trypanosomes while I
had been working in the Microbiology Department. I had never been told
at that time that trypanosomes were being injected into the animals even
though I was doing many of the inoculations. I had no reason to suspect
that this research could be carried out in the department because it was
a teaching facility and it was Biosafety Level I. There were no special
precautions taken whatsoever. Nothing was told to me even when many of
the animals had died. I had questioned  the researcher [Dr. Lucy
Mutharia] and she told me nothing. When I had developed a severe rash in
1990 which  lasted well over one month I still had not been told
anything until four years later. In 1994, I was informed that the
researcher had been using only procyclic forms of Trypanosoma Congolense
and Trypanosoma Brucei Brucei. In actual fact, this researcher admitted
in 1996 (6 years after I had been infected) that she was also using
procyclic forms of Trypanosoma Brucei Gambiense, Trypanosoma Brucei
Rhodesiense, Trypanosoma Simiae, and  bloodstream forms of Trypanosoma
Brucei Brucei and Trypanosoma Simae. While inoculating the mice and
rabbits I would occasionally stick myself with the syringe because  the
animal would move. Throughout this time I was never told to take special
precautions. Furthermore, this same researcher would leave blood  from
the experimental mice and rabbits on the surgical table and I would
clean it up.

I was eventually diagnosed (positive for African trypanosomiasis) by the
CATT method and by the end of last year (1995)  I had a constant
headache every day, the  fingers on my hands and were so sensitive that
I could not sleep any more at night. The one side of the back of my neck
was swollen and my eyes felt as if they would pop out of their sockets.
The doctor who had examined me when I had my anaphylactic reaction in
Aug. 1990 noted that it could be due to parasites. However, this was
never followed up because a doctor would never think of looking for
this in North America. I had also  been to  another specialist including
a parasitologist (1994)  for commonly found parasites in Canada but I
was not given a diagnosis.  However this same doctor  did report that my
symptoms suggest  that trypanosomiasis should not be discounted. Since
they do not test for African Trypanosomes in North America, I was
advised by my doctor to go to Europe for testing.

I had been treated with pentamidine for nine days although I have
developed diabetes as a side effect. Presently my health is relatively
excellent compared to before my treatment.

SUMMARY : The university was breaking the law by not following the
proper  biosafety level of level 2 which of  course would be more
expensive and  elaborate for the university to set up.  After my first
sign of Trypanosomiasis  symptoms in August 1990, the university's
Biohazard Committee conveniently passed  a level -1 permit for the
Micro. prof's  research. Although the Federal Permit(Agriculture
Canada),  issued to the professor, in Oct 1989,  said that Biosafety
level-2 conditions  must be "strictly" followed the  professor continued
working in a  level-1 facility risking exposure to  not only myself but
countless  undergrads and other staff. Even  though the University
claims it had  the dubious right to break the Federal  permit (although
this may be easily  argued against) the professor was  handling
trypanosomes for approx.  11 months before the university passed  a
permit that allowed level-1  conditions-she was handling both  procyclic
and bloodstream forms of  trypanosomes. Note that  Health Canada,
Centre for Disease Control and the  World Health Organization  say that
Level-2 conditions must be used at  all times when working with
Trypanosomes. In essence I was left to  die.

The Ontario  Ministry of Labour during  two investigations was
just trying  to cover up for the University which  I also have
documented. This included  Labour Minister Witmer herself. I have every
 statement  on my web-site covered by  documentation from the
Ministry's  offices (Toronto) obtained by the  Freedom of Information
Act or by signed letters sent to me from the various  players involved.
My campaign against the Ministry of Labour and the University of Guelph
is one of Justice, for how can something like this happen in Canada?

If you have  any further questions  please feel free to send me private
e-mail or  fax  to 519-856-1381 or phone 519-856-4503.


Bozena Kristof

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