Death of former U. of C. researcher caused false alarm for city officials

By TONIA HILL
Staff Writer

The death of a former biological sciences researcher at the University of Chicago (U. of C.) caused a false alarm for city officials this week. NBC 5 reported yesterday that there was suspicion that the former researcher died from the Ebola virus.

Dr. Eric Bertolino, 51, was found dead in his apartment on the 5500 block of South Dorchester Ave., Monday, Feb. 13.

NBC reported that an employee of Bertolino’s building found items in his refrigerator labeled with the letter “ebo…” which caused the person to believe that the substances found were samples of the Ebola virus that causes severe and fatal illness.

Authorities from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Chicago Police Department came up with a plan to enter the apartment after the reports from the building employee about the potential presence of the virus.

As a precautionary measure first responders investigated the claim and evaluated, the circumstances, said a spokeswoman for the Office of Emergency Management and Communications.

The city has since concluded its investigation and determined that there are no public safety concerns related to the situation and there is no connection to the Ebola virus or any other infectious disease.

The cause and manner of Bertolino’s death is pending according to a spokeswoman for the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Bertolino worked at U. of C. from 1996 to 2011.

t.hill@hpherald.com