Authorities discovered that an unassuming warehouse near Fresno housed a large-scale illegal medical lab, filled with bioengineered mice, infectious agents, and a plethora of hazardous materials.
The investigation began in March, when a curious code enforcement officer saw a simple garden hose illegally attached to the rear of the building in Reedley City, according to KRON4. The warehouse, which he thought was a storage facility, turned out to be an illegal lab. It’s reportedly owned by a company operating under the name "Prestige Biotech."
At the time, county public health officials also reportedly found medical devices thought to have been developed on-site, allegedly for use as Covid and pregnancy tests, as NBC reported.
The Fresno County Public Health Department has been "evaluating and assessing the activities of an unlicensed laboratory" the health department's assistant director, Joe Prado, said in a statement Thursday, per NBC.
City Manager Nicole Zieba expressed her shock, stating, "This is an unusual situation. I've been in government for 25 years. I've never seen anything like this," according to KRON4.
The facility reportedly held over 800 different chemicals on-site, including unknown substances categorized as "unknown chemicals." Among the discoveries were thousands of vials, some containing biohazardous materials like human blood, and almost 1,000 laboratory mice, 200 of which were already dead.
Shockingly, when tested by the Centers for Disease Control, at least 20 potentially infectious viral, bacterial, and parasitic agents were detected, including E. Coli, malaria, and COVID, as KRON4 reported, as well as HIV, hepatitis and herpes, according to NBC.
The city, along with state and federal agencies, reportedly worked to remove the hazardous materials from the site, but the nature and purpose of the operation are still unknown, and a criminal investigation is underway.
The company said to be running the operation, Prestige BioTech, now reportedly stands accused of failing to comply with orders, including providing a plan for biological abatement and disposal of the materials.
For now, authorities reassured the public that there is no immediate cause for concern, but residents and officials remain disturbed.
Image via Google Street View.