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5 September 2016 Statement

CSIRO has detected a breach of biosecurity and laboratory protocols in one of the labs at Black Mountain relating to a pathogen called Nocardia testacea, a bacteria found in soil.

CSIRO has instigated a full investigation, and have notified Biosecurity Australia of the incident and sought advice on what reporting might be required.

Our immediate focus is on the health and wellbeing of our staff. CSIRO has asked Professor Peter Collignon, a leading infectious disease specialist and microbiologist from Canberra Hospital and the Australian National University, to help with the investigation. Professor Collignon's assessment of the species in question, Narcodia testacea is that it poses low risk. This is based on the low virulence of the species and, as reported in the medical literature, very low incidence (only a few cases) of Norcodia testacea infection of immunosuppressed (those with very weak immune systems) individuals by this species world-wide. Professor Collignon also communicated that there is no record of any Narcodia being passed from person-to-person.

CSIRO has arranged for Professor Collignon to provide a special staff briefing session on Monday 5 Sept to answer any concerns staff may have. CSIRO will continue to support staff and keep them fully informed as necessary.

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