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Microbiology Australia Microbiology Australia
Issue 2

Vertical Transmission, May 2008

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A need for an integrated management process for biorisks

Biosafety has been a long-term issue in microbiology laboratories and has arisen out of the need to properly handle and prevent laboratory acquired infections. Yet, despite the adoption of a Standard for biosafety in Australia over 3 decades ago, such infections still occur.

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Laboratory accidents and breaches in biosafety – they do occur!

In 2003 and 2004 the world became aware of three high profile microbiological incidents in Asia associated with infections with the SARS coronavirus (SARS CoV). Early in 2004 SARS was causing major disruption to many Asian countries, costing a considerable amount in lost trade and in handling the medical emergency. However, through strict quarantine measures, the disease was controlled and eradicated the virus as a cause of disease in humans (although it continues to exits in wildlife).

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Proposed changes to the Australian Standard for microbiological safety in laboratories (AS/NZS 2243.3)

The Australian/New Zealand Standard for safety in microbiological laboratories and containment facilities, AS/NZS 2243.3:20021, is currently undergoing revision. This update reflects requirements for the safe handling of microorganisms in all four containment levels of laboratories and containment facilities (PC1-4); it also covers the requirements for animal, plant and invertebrate containment facilities. The committee has endeavoured to ensure harmonisation with publications by the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) and Australian...

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The Australian Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Data Centre

How well can Australia prevent and respond to an act of bioterrorism and how much do researchers in the life sciences know about the potential application of their work for hostile purposes? To further address these and other issues relating to the malicious use of hazardous substances, the Australian government has established the Australian Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Data Centre.

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National Health Security Act 2007: registration of laboratories that hold Tier 1 and 2 agents

The National Health Security Act 2007 (the NHS Act) was passed by parliament on 20 September 2007 and received royal assent on 28 September 2007. Its two main operative parts establish different functions, with part 2 establishing formal surveillance requirements within Australia, and part 3 establishing the regulation of security sensitive biological agents (SSBAs). Information and updates on the proposed SSBA regulatory scheme will be available from the SSBA website. Note that Part 1 of the NHS Act provides the preliminary clauses necessary t...

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New quarantine criteria for microbiological laboratories

The Australian Quarantine Inspection Service (AQIS) has developed new systems to enhance quarantine controls and procedures for containment facilities. AQIS engaged stakeholders throughout the development process to ensure the strengthened requirements would impose a minimal burden on industry while maintaining quarantine integrity.

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Why laboratories fail

Recent inspections by the author of approximately 200 biocontainment laboratories have revealed substantial shortcomings. This paper presents a summary of these findings. Failures that may directly affect microbiological containment are explained in general terms to promote an improved understanding of the problems.

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Assessing biosecurity risks from imported materials

Biosecurity Australia is responsible for assessing and providing policy advice on the sanitary (animal health) and phytosanitary (plant health) risks arising from imports of people, animals and plants, and other goods and materials entering Australia. Biosecurity Australia meets this responsibility by undertaking import risk analyses (IRAs) to establish policy and by conducting reviews of existing policy as necessary. If Biosecurity Australia assesses the risk of a proposed import as acceptable (with or without risk management measures), it mak...

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The initial laboratory diagnosis of equine influenza in Australia in 2007

Until August 2007, Australia had not recorded an outbreak of equine influenza; indeed, significant quarantine precautions exist to safeguard against such an event. This article outlines the lead up to virus confirmation and the procedures to first test, then contain it.

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New gene technology certification guidelines

Over the past 12 months, the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) has implemented a number of major reforms to the certification guidelines for physical containment (PC) facilities. The recent changes are more outcome-focussed and are more aligned with other standards and regulations (www.daff.gov.au/aqis/import/general-info/qap/class-5/criteria, www.standards.com.au).

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The WHO Collaborating Centre for Biosafety in Microbiology

The World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Biosafety in Microbiology has been established at the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory (VIDRL) for over 2 decades and played a significant role in the development of the WHO Laboratory Biosafety Manual and the WHO Biorisk Guidelines. It has also contributed to WHO’s international biosafety programmes and to the raising awareness of biosafety in Australia.

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PC4 laboratory construction: a users’ point of view

The Sydney 2000 Olympic Games was a tremendous event for Australia, bringing the world’s best athletes and thousands of visitors to Sydney. As it was a global event with comprehensive media coverage, it also bought to our shores the possibility of terrorist activity. During the period the games were held, the Centre for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology (CIDM) performed laboratory investigations of suspicious substances found at Olympic Games venues and Sydney airport and worked with the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) tes...

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Health: how do we maintain the borders in the face of disease emergencies?

The Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) aims to protect and improve the health of all Australians. One of the ways DoHA works to achieve this is through preventing the entry of communicable diseases into Australia. This is achieved in partnership with Australia’s border control agencies and with States and Territories.

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A mobile laboratory for real time analysis during forensic operations

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) have developed the Mobilab, a mobile forensics laboratory, to provide on-site support to Australian Capital Territory (ACT), national and international investigations.

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Bacteriophage therapy: experience from the Eliava Institute, Georgia

The lysis of bacteria by bacteriophage was independently discovered by Frederick Twort and Felix d’Herelle but it was d’Herelle who proposed that bacteriophage might be applied to the control of bacterial diseases. Within the former Soviet Union (FSU), bacteriophage therapy was researched and applied extensively for the treatment of a wide range of bacterial infections. In the West, however, it was not explored with the same enthusiasm and was eventually discarded with the arrival of antibiotics. However, the increase in the incidence of multi-...

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ASM Affairs, May 2008

ASM Education Special Interest Group: Microbial biotechnology education from a regional development perspective; Lab report: ‘Chocolate mousse’ on Sunshine Coast beaches

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