Friday, December 16, 2016

Occupational hazard in Canadian BSL-4 laboratory

The Canadian Science Centre for Human and Animal Health is located in Winnipeg Canada. It is one of only a few places in North America with the clearance and equipment to handle Ebola. Last month there was an incident at the is laboratory that showed that even the label of BSL-4 does not make you immune to mistakes or equipment failures. On November 7th an employee noticed a split in his suit’s seam when he was doing the decontamination procedure while exiting the lab from working with Ebola virus. The employee was immediately given the experimental Ebola vaccine as a preventative measure. The employee was also placed on 21 days of self-isolation. There were no symptoms that formed and he was eventually released. This did cause major changes in the safeguards that the facility uses including better record keeping, testing, and inspection. One thing that is concerning is that they were utilizing the same suits for up to 5 years. This is most likely the weak link in their safety procedures as usage of a suit for that can definitely reduce the effectiveness of protecting the wearer as wear and tear is accumulated.

-Vander Harris

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