Effective employee training needed for successful bio-preparedness

An assessment of France's biological and chemical threat detection network of laboratories published on November 8 determined that standardized training of laboratory personnel is a necessity for the successful detection of biological agents.

The Biotox-Piratox network of laboratories was created in 2003 and is made up of multiple levels. Level 1 is meant for risk evaluation of biological, chemical and radiological threats, Level 2 includes military and university hospitals, and Level 3 includes the national reference labs and a Lyon-based BSL-4 laboratory. The research team conducted an assessment of the laboratory network in 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011, Euro Surveillance reports.

The evaluation included the identification of an unknown bacterial strain used in a bioterrorist attack 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 main lesson learnt in these exercises was that the key to successful detection of biological agents in case of a biological threat was standardization and validation of the methods implemented by all the laboratories belonging to the network," the study said, according to Euro Surveillance.

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