ORANGE COUNTY: Deadly Bacteria Discovered in Biofem Researcher’s Home
Preliminary testing on substances obtained from the home of the late Biofem researcher Dr. Larry Ford found traces of germs that cause cholera and salmonella, according to federal investigators. Officials are unsure whether Ford -- who committed suicide in March after he was suspected of involvement with a botched assassination attempt of his business partner Biofem CEO James Patrick Riley --violated any laws by storing and using the dangerous bacteria in his home. Officials indicated that the bacteria had been stored at Ford's home "for some time, possibly years," and tests showed that some of the germs were alive. Dr. Kenneth Litwack, an associate professor of the University of California-Irvine, noted that both pathogens, if stored properly, "can be used as part of legitimate research in a laboratory setting." The FBI is now attempting to determine if the bacteria was used for medical research Ford conducted for Biofem or if it somehow relates to his "informal" relationship with the South African military's biological weapons program. According to Biofem attorney Raymond Lee, none of the company's research ever involved either cholera or salmonella. He said of Biofem's research, "There was nothing that was harmful at all. ... Whatever [Ford] had at home was just his." Salmonella is the leading cause of food poisoning and, in some cases, can be fatal. Vibrio cholerae, the bacteria that causes cholera, is cited on a CDC list of potential bioterrorism agents, along with botulism and anthrax (Leonard, Los Angeles Times, 4/30).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.