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Mishandling Them

There have been a number of safety issues at UK laboratories handling harmful bacteria, fungi, and viruses, the Guardian reports. It says the Health and Safety Executive has investigated 40 incidents at specialist labs between June 2015 and July 2017, including cases that have led scientists to fall ill.

According to the Guardian, one scientist at Public Health England became sick after contracted Shigella, while another at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust became infected with paratyphoid infection and someone at Pall Life Sciences became ill with salmonella.

It adds that a number of the safety incidents occurred when samples were transferred between labs. Bristol University researchers, for instance, accidentally mailed live dengue virus to Glasgow University's Centre for Virus Research, while the diagnostic lab Viapath sent improperly packaged Chlamydia psittaci to PHE's infectious disease unit.

Tim Trevan from Chrome Biosafety and Biosecurity Consulting tells the paper that though these issues have been chalked up to human error, getting to why those errors occur is needed to prevent them from occurring again.

Similar incidents have been reported in the US, one of which involved samples sent overseas.