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Processing Ebola Samples in the Routine Lab – Useful Advice Links


The 2014 Ebola outbreak is the largest in history and on September 30th, 2014, the first travel-related case of Ebola was identified in the US. Today it was announced that a New York doctor, who recently returned from Guinea, has tested positive for the virus. Laboratories around the world are now preparing for the receipt and testing of specimens from suspected Ebola patients. Is your lab ready?

A common concern amongst lab workers currently is the risk associated with handling infected samples. The early symptoms of Ebola infection are non-specific and are frequently seen in patients with other diseases such as malaria and typhoid fever. A person is considered to be infectious as soon as they display symptoms, so laboratories testing samples from high-risk patients showing early symptoms should obviously treat these samples with extreme caution.

Laboratories are advised currently that they can safely process specimens from infected patients, as long as there is strict adherence to policies in place to deal with pathogens spread in the blood (1). According to the Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens (ACDP), the risk to laboratory staff processing high risk VHF samples is 'low'. This is, in large part, due to the fact that most laboratories use closed autoanalyzer systems. In this respect, processing VHF samples poses no greater risk than samples containing other blood-borne viruses, such as Hepatitis C and HIV (2).


The following are links to US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), European Commission and UK Government website pages giving advice and guidance to laboratories:

1. http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/hcp/interim-guidance-specimen-collection-submission-patients-suspected-infection-ebola.html
2. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/354640/VHF_ guidance_document_updated_links.pdf

Recent SelectScience Ebola Articles:

Phase I Human Trials for Ebola Vaccine Begin this Week
Characterization of a Point-of-Care Diagnostic for Ebola and Sudan Virus Detection
Corgenix Provides Update on Ebola Test Kit NIH Grant
Could Point-of-Care Testing Stop Ebola Outbreak?

Image credit: File: Ebola virus (2).jpg : Attribution : By CDC Global 2.0 Generic [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.


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CMLF News Issue #7
27th January 2016