Monitoring of Laboratory-Acquired Infections

Research reports | 29.03.2018 | CGM 2018-01

To protect both humans and the environment, activities with wildtype micro-organisms or genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) need to be conducted in contained facilities (laboratories, animal facilities, etc.) in accordance with specified safety procedures. Despite these measures, incidental infections occur during these laboratory activities, so-called laboratory-acquired infections (LAIs). In this context, COGEM commissioned a research project aiming to provide insight into monitoring of LAIs. The research has been conducted by researchers from WIV-ISP and PERSEUS bvba.
The report provides an overview of monitoring of LAIs in The Netherlands and abroad. The researchers have performed three analyses. The first analysis consists of a review of the regulatory framework on monitoring of LAIs. The second analysis comprises a review of the scientific literature on the occurrence of LAIs. In a third analysis the results are shown of an ‘online questionnaire’ on monitoring of LAIs, from stakeholders that are engaged in maintaining biosafety. Summarizing, the researchers conclude that the number of scientific reports on the occurrence of LAIs are relatively limited. LAIs are, when deducible, caused by activities with wild type micro-organisms, while LAIs caused by GMOs hardly seem to occur. Based on the results from the ‘questionnaire’ the researchers conclude that LAIs are not always reported to the competent authorities, partly due to fear of reprisal.  The researchers therefore recommend to set up a ‘blame-free’ reporting system by which incidents or ‘near misses’ can be reported anonymously. Hence, the scientific community as a whole can learn from these events.
The report was commissioned by COGEM. The contents of the report are the sole responsibility of the authors and may in no way be taken to represent the views of COGEM.

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