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Human Salmonella Typhimurium Infections Linked to Exposure to Clinical and Teaching Microbiology Laboratories

Advice to Students and Employees in Microbiology Laboratories

Guidance documents for work with Salmonella and other similar human pathogens can be found on the Key Resources page.

  • Be aware that bacteria used in microbiology laboratories can make you or others who live in your household sick, especially young children, even if they have never visited the laboratory.
    • If you work in a laboratory, it is possible for you to bring bacteria home through contaminated lab coats, pens, notebooks, personal electronic devices, and other items that you use while in the microbiology laboratory.
    • Avoid taking laboratory supplies outside of the laboratory to limit contamination.
    • Do not take personal items into the laboratory that you plan to take home.
  • Persons working with any infectious agents, including Salmonella bacteria, must be aware of potential hazards, and must be trained and proficient in biosafety practices and techniques required for handling such agents safely, in particular, to:
    • Wash hands frequently while working in and immediately before leaving the microbiology laboratory and follow proper hand washing practices. This is especially important to do before preparing food or baby bottles, before eating and before contact with young children.
    • Leave food, drinks or personal items like car keys and cell phones outside of the laboratory. These items may become contaminated if you bring them into the laboratory or touch them while working in the laboratory.
  • Wear a lab coat or other protective garment over personal clothing when working in a microbiology laboratory.
    • Wear gloves when working with infectious agents.
    • Remove protective garments before leaving for non-laboratory areas (e.g., cafeteria, library, or administrative offices).
    • Dispose of protective garments appropriately or deposit it for laundering.
    • Lab coats should be removed from the laboratory only when they are to be washed by the institution.
  • Avoid touching your face or other body surfaces not covered by protective garments while working in a microbiology laboratory.
  • If you work with Salmonella bacteria in a microbiology laboratory, be aware that these bacteria can make you sick.
    • Look for signs & symptoms of Salmonella infection, such as diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps.
    • Contact your health care provider if you or a family member has any of these symptoms.

Advice to Faculty Involved with Microbiology Laboratories

  • Either non-pathogenic or attenuated bacterial strains should be used when possible, especially in teaching laboratories. This practice will help reduce the risk of students and/or their family members becoming ill.
  • Persons working with infectious agents, including Salmonella bacteria, must be aware of potential hazards and trained and proficient in the practices and techniques required for handling such agents safely.
    • All students and employees using the laboratory should be trained in biosafety practices prior to performing any work in the laboratory.
  • Students and staff should wear gloves when working with infectious agents.
  • Ensure that handwashing sinks have soap and paper towels. Require students and employees to wash their hands before leaving the laboratory.
  • Do not allow lab coats to leave the microbiology laboratory, except to be cleaned by the institution.
  • Do not allow food, drinks or personal items like car keys, and personal electronic items to be used while working in the laboratory or placed on laboratory work surfaces.
    • Provide students with dedicated writing utensils, paper, and other supplies at each laboratory station. These items should not be allowed to leave the laboratory.
  • The laboratory should perform a thorough cleaning and decontamination of any potentially contaminated surfaces after students or employees work with pathogenic microorganisms.
  • Advise all persons working in the laboratory to watch for symptoms of Salmonella infection, such as diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps, and to call their health care provider if they or a family member have any of these symptoms.
  • Consider posting this educational flyer [PDF - 307 KB] in an area of the laboratory where students and employees can frequently view it.

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