Dressed in a white coat Friday, Shawn Lockhart, the fungal reference lab team leader, peered through a microscope as images of what looked like red pea pods appeared on a computer screen next to him. Many other closely related fungi look similar, but a tiny dot at the end of a pod told him he was looking at the fungus believed to be at the root of the outbreak.
Normally, the reference lab works on difficult samples sent in from state health departments, while the research lab works on research projects. But the scale of this outbreak means those projects are mostly being shelved at the moment.
"The scale is much, much bigger than we would normally work with," said research lab team leader Ana Litvintseva said. "We are working every weekend and people are here 12 to 13 hours at a time and we're testing samples nonstop."
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