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Chapter 13 : Biological Toxins: Safety and Science
Biological toxins may be classified according to the microorganisms from which the toxin is derived: bacterial, fungal, algal, plant, or animal. Toxins may also be classified according to their mode of action. With an increase in the use of biological toxins in biomedical research, there is a growing need for information on working safely with these materials. This chapter is intended to serve as a guide for laboratory personnel and biosafety professionals for work with diagnostic and research laboratory quantities of biological toxins. It is not applicable to an industrial setting where large quantities of toxin are being produced. In the laboratory setting the routes of exposure for biological toxins and venoms are similar to those for infectious agents, including ingestion, inhalation, and absorption (dermal, percutaneous, or ocular). Infection with Bacillus anthracis can usually be treated successfully with antibiotics if it is the cutaneous form or, for inhalation anthrax, if treatment is started early. Important causes of food poisoning, enterotoxins are produced when Staphylococcus aureus grows in carbohydrate and protein foods. Arthropods, snakes, snails, fish, and other marine animals synthesize and secrete or excrete toxins; however, the toxins are not considered to be of major concern for laboratory workers. In the toxin laboratory, a safe work environment is maintained through stringent housekeeping procedures, frequent decontamination of potentially contaminated surfaces and equipment, and appropriate decontamination and disposal of toxin-contaminated waste. Medical treatment for intoxication also varies, ranging from administration of antidotes (antivenin or antitoxin) or vaccines (i.e., toxoids) to supportive therapy.
Sources and mechanisms for various toxins and venoms a
Toxicity data for select toxins
Primary features of bacterial exotoxins and endotoxins a
Characteristics of bacterial toxins a
Dinoflagellate toxin-associated diseases: public health strategies a
Chemical inactivation of toxins a
Heat inactivation of toxins a