Image: A quarantine unit at the Hamburg University hospital
Jochen Koppelmeyer  /  AP file
The 45-year-old scientist who accidentally pricked her finger with a needle used for injecting the Ebola virus into mice was treated in this quarantine unit at Hamburg University Hospital. Within 24 hours of the March 12 accident, an experimental vaccine that had never before been tried on humans was on its way via international courier from a lab in Canada.
updated 3/27/2009 2:01:01 PM ET 2009-03-27T18:01:01

It's a nightmare scenario worthy of a sci-fi movie script: A scientist accidentally pricks her finger with a needle used to inject the deadly Ebola virus into lab mice.

But in this case, it really happened — to an unidentified 45-year-old woman in Germany.

Within hours of the accident on March 12, several of the scientist's colleagues held a trans-Atlantic telephone conference to map out a way to save her life.

Within 24 hours, an experimental vaccine — never before tried on humans — was on its way to Germany from a lab in Canada.

Within 40 hours, the at-risk scientist was injected with the vaccine.

So far, so good. If the woman is still healthy on April 2, she can consider herself safe.

It's not a 100-percent certainty the researcher was actually infected with Ebola.

If she doesn't become infected, scientists may not know if it was the vaccine, or luck.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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