Laboratory testing to support the care of patients with highly infectious diseases may pose a risk for laboratory workers. However, data on the risk of virus transmission during routine laboratory testing conducted using standard personal protective equipment (PPE) are sparse. Our objective was to measure laboratory contamination during routine analysis of patient specimens. Remnant specimens were spiked with the nonpathogenic bacteriophage MS2 at 1.0 10 7 PFU/ml, and contamination was assessed using reverse transcriptase PCR (RT-PCR) for MS2. Specimen containers were exte-riorly coated with a fluorescent powder to enable the visualization of gross contamination using UV light. Testing was performed by two experienced laboratory technologists using standard laboratory PPE and sample-to-answer instrumentation. Fluorescence was noted on the gloves, bare hands, and laboratory coat cuffs of the laboratory technologist in 36/36 (100%), 13/36 (36%), and 4/36 (11%) tests performed, respectively. Fluorescence was observed in the biosafety cabinet (BSC) in 8/36 (22%) tests, on test cartridges/ devices in 14/32 (44%) tests, and on testing accessory items in 29/32 (91%) tests. Fluorescence was not observed on or in laboratory instrumentation or adjacent surfaces. In contrast to fluorescence detection, MS2 detection was infrequent (3/286 instances [1%]) and occurred during test setup for the FilmArray instrument and on FilmArray accessory equipment. The information from this study may provide opportunities for the improvement of clinical laboratory safety practices so as to reduce the risk of pathogen transmission to laboratory workers.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of clinical microbiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2018


  • Contamination
  • Ebola virus
  • Laboratory-acquired infection
  • Risk assessment
  • Sample-to-answer testing


Dive into the research topics of 'Frequency of instrument, environment, and laboratory technologist contamination during routine diagnostic testing of infectious specimens'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this