Report: Biopreparedness requires effective employee training

A recent assessment of the French Biotox-Piratox biological and chemical threat detection network of laboratories found that the key to successfully detecting biological agents is standardized and effective training of laboratory personnel.

Biotox-Piratox was created in 2003 and is comprised of several levels, including risk evaluation, university and military hospitals and, at the highest level, national reference laboratories and the Jean Mérieux laboratory in Lyon. Researchers conducted an assessment of the laboratory network in 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011, Euro Surveillance reports.

The assessment included the simulated identification of an unknown bacterial strain used in a bioterrorist event and the detection of Class III microorganisms using molecular methods.

The researchers determined that the labs were most successful when staff members used standardized and validated methods put into place by all the network laboratories.

"The conclusion that can be drawn from these exercises is that the key to successful detection of biological agents in case of a biological threat is the training of the laboratory personnel (microbiologists and technicians) dealing with class III organisms as well as the standardization and validation of methods implemented by all laboratories of the network," the researchers said, according to Euro Surveillance.

The researchers said that while it is not possible to force labs to use the same techniques or equipment, administrative procedures should be put in place to allow for the labs to learn the same guidelines for biological specimens, Euro Surveillance reports.