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Prophylaxis to avoid accidental contamination

As this chapter is intended to be useful to personnel from diagnostic laboratories, some guidelines for prophylaxis of accidental contamination are included. Accidental contamination with T. cruzi has been reported in more than 100 cases.49,50 Contamination may be of laboratory staff who works with infected bugs, with inoculated animals, cultures for antigen production, cryopreserved samples, and blood from acute phase patients. Also surgeons and staff in surgical procedures or necropsies may be contaminated if handling infected patients. However, there are guidelines to help avoid this danger. It is advisable that all personnel working with this parasite have a sample of blood collected and serum stored each year. This is useful to know if someone was infected before arrival at the laboratory, and to compare antibody levels in the case of an accident or recognize an otherwise unnoticed contamination. The main measures to avoid an accident are, in order of importance: (1) eye and mouth protection, by using a mask, (2) gloves and covered shoes (no sandals allowed), (3) do not work alone; and (4) concentration on the task. Some of these are obvious and a part of good laboratory practices, which should be followed nowadays in any laboratory together with personal protection equipment (PPE).

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