The laboratory, known as Prestige BioTech, was found to house at least 20 potentially infectious agents, including coronavirus, HIV, hepatitis, and herpes, as well as over 900 lab mice.
According to court documents obtained by NBC News, the company's President, Xiuquin Yao, provided authorities with addresses that either turned out to be empty offices or addresses in China that could not be verified. The documents also revealed that Yao claimed his company was a creditor to Universal Meditch Inc. and had moved its assets into the Fresno location after the company went out of business. However, officials were unable to find any California-based addresses for either company, raising further suspicions.
City and county officials conducted inspections of the laboratory on March 3 and 16. During these visits, certain rooms were found to contain various vessels of liquid and apparatus. Fresno County Public Health staff also discovered blood, tissue, bodily fluid samples, serums, and thousands of vials of unlabeled fluids and suspected biological material. Shockingly, the report revealed that over 175 dead mice were found in the warehouse, and an additional 773 mice were euthanized in April due to inhumane conditions.
Joe Prado, assistant director of the Fresno County Public Health Department, stated that the department has been evaluating and assessing the activities of the unlicensed laboratory in Reedley. He emphasized the need for coordination and collaboration with multiple federal and state agencies to determine and classify the biological and chemical contents found on-site. Prado added that all chemical agents had been destroyed by July 5.
"This is an unprecedented situation," Prado remarked. "In my 26-year career with the County of Fresno, I have never seen anything like this. There were over 800 different chemicals on-site, categorized under unknown chemicals."
Reedley City Manager Nicole Zieba expressed her astonishment at the situation, stating that in her 25 years of government service, she had never encountered anything similar. Zieba assured the public that there were no longer any biological agents or mice present in the laboratory. However, she noted that the investigation is still ongoing, and Xiuquin Yao has not been cooperative in providing information. Despite this, Zieba emphasized that there is currently no significant public concern.