If your 87 year old Aunt Edna all of a sudden started handing out fresh tabs of acid, would you complain about how embarrasing and un-hip Edna is with her rocking chair and Alzheimers n' all, or would you just shut up and enjoy this unexpected bounty... -- Patient Joab
Some doctors carry medicine and stethoscopes in their
little black bags. When an unnamed doctor from U.C.
Berkeley came to visit San Francisco last week, he decided
to bring a vial of tuberculosis bacilli instead. Whatever
he intended to do with the deadly bacteria will have to
wait until he can whip up a fresh batch, because someone
stole the vial.
It has been reported that "The glass vial was inside a metal canister that is
about 8 inches long, 3-to-4 inches in diameter, and carries a bright orange
biohazard warning label. The vial is wrapped in bubble wrap, and the bacteria
-- which is whitish in color and is about a quarter of a tablespoon in volume
-- is at the top of the vial. The vial is in a pocket of the bag, which is an
Eddie Bauer bag."
Richard Holder, chief of inspectors with the San Francisco Police Department
and obviously not the sharpest cop on the beat, said that the doctor did not
notify police until Monday afternoon (6/28/99). Holder also said he did not
know why the doctor left the crime unreported so long.
I think a better question might be "What in hell are you doing carrying a vial
of deadly bacteria around in an Eddie Bauer bag for anyway, huh? Answer me
chump!" That's where I'd start my investigation. Is it a common practice for
doctors to walk around with vials full of biohazards? What was he thinking?
Richard Lee, an industrial hygienist with the San Francisco Department of
Public Health, said that the bacteria could infect anyone putting his nose to
the vial or wiping the bacteria with a hand and then touching the face. Of
course, to a person not used to dealing with biohazards, the tuberculosis could
look enough like cocaine that the thief might be tempted to line up a rail and