ABC of Safety in the Biological Sciences




Brucellosis is a debilitating disease in humans caused by a micrococcus, of which several strains have been isolated from humans and animals. Transmission to humans occurs as an occupational hazard or by ingestion of contaminated milk products. The individual most at risk is the meat industry worker or the veterinarian. Transmission of the organism is via open wounds or from poor personal hygiene. The incubation period is several weeks to months, depending upon the strain of organism causing the infection. The acute disease may occur as a mild, transient illness or as an explosive, toxic disease. Symptoms are non­specific but generally include malaise, chills, sweats, fatigue and weakness.

Prevention in humans relates directly to prevention of the disease in animals, immunisation and personal hygiene.

  • Wear protective clothing ­ a long sleeved laboratory coat or gown and rubber gloves. If there is danger of an aerosol contamination also wear safety goggles and a face mask or use a pathogen handling cabinet.
  • Cover open cuts.
  • Avoid splashes.
  • Clean up spills.
  • Disinfect spill areas.
  • Wash hands thoroughly before eating, drinking or smoking.
  • Remove work clothes before eating, drinking or smoking.

Merck, E. (1974)
Clinical Laboratory, 11th Edition.
Merck, Darmstadt.

Miller, B.M. et al. (1986)
Laboratory Safety: Principles and Practices.
American Society for Microbiology, Washington DC, U.S.A.



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