Scientific research is already difficult, and working on highly infectious diseases makes it even more so. Thankfully, there are procedures in place that can help scientists and researchers stay safe while they work to protect everyone else. Check out these infection control practices for scientists that aid in COVID prevention.
Treat All Liquids As Infectious
When COVID-19 first broke out, there was a lot of confusion about how it spread through populations. Until scientists know the transmission mechanism of a disease, they have a hard time protecting themselves, much less anyone else. Even now, new variants of SARS-CoV-2 continue to change the transmission mechanisms and contagion factors, making it difficult to issue blanket-statement advice.
One thing scientists do to protect themselves involves treating all liquids as infectious, even if it’s labeled “sterile.” This practice encourages scientists to take no risks, even ones they might not know about yet.
Wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Personal protective equipment is an expansive category of specialized clothing designed to keep people safe. PPE protects against fire, heat, chemical burns, poisonous gas, and many other hazards. When scientists handle samples of SARS-CoV-2, they use the highest level of HAZMAT protection, which includes a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA).
Use Proper Ventilation
Even the facilities that you use need special ventilation systems that keep everyone safe. For example, you don’t want air from rooms where people handle the virus to cross into other spaces. These specialized HVAC systems filter the air inside labs and even maintain different pressures in each space.
Cleaning and Fumigation
When scientists finish their work, they must always sterilize their equipment and workspaces. This requirement extends to cabinets, tables, and even floors to prevent the virus from lingering anywhere. Periodically, researchers will even fumigate their labs with formaldehyde to kill any remaining viruses and bacteria.
Following these infection control practices for scientists is critical for COVID prevention. Scientists who do not follow these policies risk catching or carrying the virus home to their communities. It’s always better to take more precautions than risk spreading a dangerous pathogen.