The number of laboratory acquired infections (LAIs) is growing. In the United States, for example, there were 1141 cases between 1979 and 2004. Among the most common agents, Mycobacterium tuberculosis accounted for over half of the reported cases, followed by Rickettsia spp. and Coxiella burnetti. LAIs are a growing health concern in laboratories, and reporting requirements vary from region to region. In the United States, however, the CDC requires laboratories to report any incidents of LAIs. Those who seek medical help are not required to report an infection.
There are many risks for pathogen acquisition in health care facilities. The CDC recommends a stringent adherence to infection control measures. A recent case of carbuncles in a laboratory worker resulted in the identification of Staphylococcus aureus from the pus samples. The strain exhibited the same pulsed field gel electrophoresis band pattern as a previously studied strain. The risk of acquiring pathogens from clinical samples is greater in health care facilities than in other settings.
Infection control measures must be strictly followed in clinical diagnostic laboratories. One study identified a laboratory worker who had developed carbuncles on his hands after contacting an open plate. The pus samples from the carbuncles were positive for Staphylococcus aureus, which showed the same pulsed field gel electrophoresis band pattern as a recently studied strain. This case highlights the need for better infection control in clinical diagnostic laboratories.
Researchers from multiple fields have documented the risk of laboratory-acquired infections. In the United States, most reported cases of LAF occurred in clinical facilities. Some types of laboratory workers are microbiology laboratories and autopsy service workers. These studies indicate that these workplaces are at risk for developing an LAF. There is no evidence that laboratory-acquired skin infection is associated with human fatalities. And, because it is so rare, it is important to follow all safety practices and regulations.
Several studies have reported that laboratory-acquired infections occur in more than one third of all clinical laboratories. During collective studies, the most common causes of LAI were Q fever, typhoid fever, and hepatitis. In recent years, the incidence of LAIs declined by 80% within 20 years. During the last decade, the risks of LAIs have increased. Fortunately, there are some ways to mitigate their risks.
Before working with an infectious agent, it is important to know the details of the infection. The cause of the infection can be found in the source, including the laboratory’s equipment, and the pathogen’s concentration. The best way to avoid LAI is to learn about the organism’s characteristics and how it can spread. Infections can cause an adverse impact on the health of the individual. It is important to learn about the pathogens and their dosage before entering the lab.