A new strain of the H5N2 virus has spread to poultry populations across the country, including cases in Iowa, Minnesota, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Missouri, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin. The first instance of the virus appeared in poultry farms in British Columbia.
The outbreak’s reach is such that some labs are working overtime to keep up with the cases of avian flu. Before the outbreak in Minnesota, the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at the University of Minnesota — the only lab in the state capable of testing for the virus — had 5 full-time technicians. The lab has increased its staff to 12, and they are all carrying a heavy workload, performing well over 100 tests a day.
If your laboratory is dealing with a similar surge, it’s crucial that you have the necessary equipment at your disposal to ensure your staff members’ safety as they work harder and longer hours.
Testing with the right tools such as Biosafety Cabinets
The lab technicians have a number of tools that aid them in performing tests in a safe environment. Chief among them is the NuAire Biosafety Cabinets, which allows laboratory workers to isolate themselves from dangerous viruses while performing tests with ease.
A biosafety safety cabinet differs from a glove box used to handle severe biohazards in that it has an open access section that protects the end user by an air barrier. The air barrier at the front of the cabinet helps prevent contamination from infectious splashes or aerosols. The air flows evenly across the work surface to help prevent cross-contamination. The exhaust air passes through a HEPA filter before recirculating into the laboratory environment or exhausted through a facility’s HVAC system.
These measures ensure the necessary safety your laboratory workers without compromising their ability to respond to ongoing threats.
Navigating the current crisis
Although there is no expected direct risk for humans, consumers are still certain to see an impact due to the impact on the poultry market — putting pressure on healthcare research labs across the country. If your lab has experience dealing with H5N2, it’s inevitable that you’ll feel the crunch as well.
In these critical times, it’s more important than ever that your staff has the right equipment to help them do their jobs efficiently and safely. As you invest in the future of your laboratory, biosafety cabinets should be at the top of your list.