Chapter 4 : Epidemiology of Laboratory-Associated Infections

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This chapter examines the extent of documented laboratory-associated infections (LAIs) classified as viral, parasitic, bacterial, fungal, including rickettsial infection by reviewing those reported over the past 75 years, the incidence of LAIs, the means by which workers are exposed, and the contributions to exposure made by host and environmental factors. Epidemiology is concerned with the extent and types of illnesses and injuries in groups of people and with the factors that influence their distribution. Interventions can be defined and control measures, procedures and practices that may prevent the occurrence or recurrence of the event, can be implemented. This chapter focuses on the application of epidemiological methods to LAIs to provide tools for identifying and preventing health problems and disease processes. It also reviews both historical data and information accumulated in the last 26 years, pointing out observations that can provide the tools to control and prevent these LAIs. Laboratory studies of potential sources of infection have focused on hazards associated with aerosols produced from routine microbiological techniques. Regarding occupational exposures to pathogenic microorganisms, the worker is pivotal in controlling the safe outcome of any operation. The most effective strategy for the prevention or minimization of LAIs is to make certain that only approved procedures are consistently utilized. The risks associated with work involving infectious agents can be minimized if appropriate attention is given to biological safety.

Citation: Harding A, Byers K. 2006. Epidemiology of Laboratory-Associated Infections, p 53-77. In Fleming D, Hunt D (ed), Biological Safety. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815899.ch4

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Generic image for table

Comparison of 10 most common symptomatic LAIs over time

Citation: Harding A, Byers K. 2006. Epidemiology of Laboratory-Associated Infections, p 53-77. In Fleming D, Hunt D (ed), Biological Safety. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815899.ch4
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LAI references by microorganism, 1979 to 2004

Citation: Harding A, Byers K. 2006. Epidemiology of Laboratory-Associated Infections, p 53-77. In Fleming D, Hunt D (ed), Biological Safety. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815899.ch4
Generic image for table

LAIs from 1979 through 2004

Citation: Harding A, Byers K. 2006. Epidemiology of Laboratory-Associated Infections, p 53-77. In Fleming D, Hunt D (ed), Biological Safety. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815899.ch4
Generic image for table

Comparison of primary symptomatic infections and deaths by agent category

Citation: Harding A, Byers K. 2006. Epidemiology of Laboratory-Associated Infections, p 53-77. In Fleming D, Hunt D (ed), Biological Safety. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815899.ch4
Generic image for table

Distribution of symptomatic infections according to primary purpose of work performed

Citation: Harding A, Byers K. 2006. Epidemiology of Laboratory-Associated Infections, p 53-77. In Fleming D, Hunt D (ed), Biological Safety. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815899.ch4
Generic image for table

Concentration and particle size of aerosols created during representative laboratory techniques

Citation: Harding A, Byers K. 2006. Epidemiology of Laboratory-Associated Infections, p 53-77. In Fleming D, Hunt D (ed), Biological Safety. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815899.ch4
Generic image for table

Infectious dose for humans

Citation: Harding A, Byers K. 2006. Epidemiology of Laboratory-Associated Infections, p 53-77. In Fleming D, Hunt D (ed), Biological Safety. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815899.ch4