A new report from the University of Iowa College of Public Health examines resources that are available to help clinical and public health laboratories prepare and improve their biosafety programs.
Dr. Michael Pentella, clinical professor of epidemiology at the UI and director of the Iowa State Hygienic Laboratory is the author of the paper, published in the May issue of the Clinical Microbiology Newsletter.
“Events such as the Ebola epidemic in 2014 have brought to light that biosafety practices in some clinical and public health laboratories are deficient,” Dr. Pentella says. “Since then there have been several intensive efforts on the national and local level to improve biosafety practices.”
According to the report, these efforts include new funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the creation of new partnerships that will provide leadership and guidance on policies and practices that impact biosafety and biosecurity in state and local governmental, as well as clinical, laboratories.
Dr. Pentella emphasized the need for clinical and public health laboratories to perform biosafety risk assessments. “By performing a risk assessment, these laboratories can identify how staff are vulnerable to exposures and then take steps to prevent them,” he says.
The report also notes that there are free online tools available that provide best practices and materials to assist with training and the risk assessment process.
[Photo: Dr. Michael Pentella]