A scientist who accidentally wrote an e-book about botulosis, which has killed nearly 1.5 million people around the world, died in a freak accident while in the midst of writing it, a biosecurity expert said.
The death was announced Monday in an eulogy for David S. Williams, a chemist at the University of Washington who died Aug. 19.
“We are heartbroken and sad,” Dr. Eric M. Miller, an infectious disease specialist and an infectious diseases expert at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a statement.
Williams was an avid science and engineering student who studied botulisms in the lab while at UW and at Stanford University.
He died after being diagnosed with botulistic poisoning, according to his wife, Rachel Williams.
He was 57.
In the e-mailed eulog, Dr. Miller said Williams was a “genius” in the field of infectious diseases.
He was also an accomplished photographer, he said, and a longtime admirer of botany, botanists and scientists.
His family released a statement on Monday saying he was “a gentle giant.”
Miller said Williams “was a great scientist, a wonderful friend, and an amazing person.””
He had a gift for describing the beautiful things we see and his sense of humor made him a fun and warm person.”
Miller said Williams “was a great scientist, a wonderful friend, and an amazing person.”
The Washington Post was not immediately able to contact Williams’s family.
More from The Hill:The Washington State Department of Health has warned students to avoid contact with plants and insects that may be contaminated with botulinum toxin, including fruit, vegetables, nuts and wild plants, and to wash and store fruits and vegetables as soon as possible after eating them.
It is also encouraging people to wear masks if they have been exposed to wild plants or insects.
The botulist’s name is David P. Williams.
Wearing a mask is a good way to protect yourself from botulinums, said Dr. John L. Dube, professor of public health at the Harvard School of Public Health.
But people who may be at risk from botinums can avoid botulinal contact by using products that contain the botulinic chemical, he added.
Botulinum is a compound that can cause severe and sometimes fatal botulitis.
It is used in many botanical products and as a treatment for conditions such as pneumonia and tuberculosis.
Health officials say the outbreak began last year in China.
It has since spread to a number of other countries, including the United States, the UK, France, Belgium, Italy, Japan and China.