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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary

No Sign Found of Doctor Using Germs on Patients

May 02, 2000

IRVINE — After weeks investigating complaints of unusual symptoms, state and Orange County health care officials concluded there was no evidence that an Irvine biomedical researcher experimented with rare and potentially deadly germs on some of his patients, officials said Monday.

Just under a dozen patients of Dr. Larry C. Ford had complained of symptoms while in his care, said County Public Health Officer Dr. Mark Horton. None, however, showed symptoms linked to two types of bacteria, Salmonella typhi and Vibrio cholerae, that were removed from Ford's Woodbridge home two months ago.

"We were not coming up with anything fruitful, so we terminated the investigation," Horton said. "If he was experimenting on anyone, we couldn't have told it from our investigation."

Monday's announcement came as health care officials sought to reassure Irvine residents that the bacteria posed no public health risk. Investigators, meanwhile, are trying to unravel the mystery of how and why Ford possessed the germs, which are both listed as possible biological warfare agents by the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Health care officials said investigators found no signs that Ford planned to use the bacteria, which they found in a refrigerator, to prepare a biological weapon. Authorities searching Ford's home found no equipment capable of reproducing the germs or dispersing them from a weapon, Horton said.

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